UEFA set to let Chelsea vs Liverpool and Man Utd vs Leeds Premier League fixtures clash with Champions League.
Some English matches were due to be played previous weekend but was shifted to later date due to circumstances surrounding the late Queen of England’s funeral.
UEFA is open to the Premier League scheduling matches on European nights to help tackle the growing fixture crisis.
In a season already squeezed unlike ever before due to a winter World Cup being held for the first time, a layer of complexity was added to matters when the decision wasbmade to suspend all football for the weekend following the Queen’s death.
It meant space would have be found for a whole weekend of games in a calendar already bursting at the seams, and further pressure was added when games had to be moved this weekend — a prospect first revealed — due to police forces being stretched preparing for the Queen’s funeral on Monday.
Chelsea’s match against Liverpool, due to be played at Stamford Bridge, and Manchester United’s game with Leeds United at Old Trafford, both pencilled in for Sunday, were postponed due to a lack of police resources and another date will have to be found.
UEFA sources have indicated to i, however, that the governing body is willing to allow Premier League matches to be played on Champions League, Europa League and Conference League nights to ease pressure.
Relations are good after the Premier League swiftly agreed to move Arsenal’s league game against Manchester City, slated for 19 October, so that the north London club couldnplay their rejigged Champions League tie with PSV Eindhoven that evening, after it too was postponed by a lack of police availability.
Last season, UEFA gave permission for the Premier League to stage games on European nights when the Omicron variant of Covid-19 forced several fixtures to be postponed. Indeed, the agreement not to play domestic games on European nights is a Memorandum of Understanding with the European Leagues body, as opposed to being a UEFA regulation.
Although UEFA did fine the Premier League more than £1m in 2013 for playing fixtures on European nights, it is accepted that leagues and competitions are facing intense pressure to ensure they are completed with as much integrity intact as possible.
The World Cup in Qatar kicks off on 20 November and will conclude on 18 December, and the start of the top-flight season was already brought forward as a result, while a round of Carabao Cup ties is set to be played just two days after the World Cup final.
Even then, with a two-week international break commencing after this weekend’s games that are going ahead, there are no longer any free midweeks to reschedule matches before the World Cup, with four midweeks taken up by European fixtures, one by the Carabao Cup third round and another by a round of Premier League fixtures already in the diary.
Having faced successive seasons of unprecedented disruption to the fixture list as a result of Covid-19 causing months of suspensions and postponements, the Premier League remain confident of being able to complete the schedule.
Going forwards, much will be determined by how far clubs progress in European competitions, the FA Cup and Carabao Cup. One option could see FA Cup third and fourth round replays scrapped, as has been the case in the past two season due to Covid disruptions.