Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hit out at the scheduling of his team’s Premier League clash with Manchester City after the international break, accusing the people behind the decision of not being able to “feel football”.
The Reds make the relatively short trip over to Manchester on Saturday 25 November, with kick-off brought forward from its original 3pm kick-off to the earlier 12.30pm TV slot.
The game was always going to be moved from 3pm on a Saturday, at which time football still cannot be broadcast live on television in England. But Klopp has an issue with it coming forward straight after an international break when Liverpool have players reporting back for duty from all over the world.
Already this season, Liverpool have played at 12:30pm following both the September and October international breaks. Both times, against Wolves and Everton, they have won, but Klopp insists that isn’t the point and suggests it is just as unfair on Manchester City.
“The boys responded sensationally well, but now they all go and when we come back we can only train once before we play Man City,” Klopp said in the wake of the weekend win over Brentford.
“No-one can say I’m moaning, but how can you put a game like this on Saturday at 12.30pm? Honestly, the people making these decisions, they cannot feel football, it is just not possible.
“You have these two teams who have altogether probably 30 international players. They all come back on the same plane by the way, all the South American players. They all fly back [together], we put them on the plane from Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia. One plane and they arrive here. It’s mad. But we just have to make sure we are ready.”
Although travel between Liverpool and Manchester on a Saturday won’t be dramatically affected by the time change, there are increasing general concerns that matchgoing fans, as well as players, are an afterthought when it comes to broadcasters choosing their TV picks.
Next month will see the first Premier League match to be played on Christmas Eve in 28 years after Chelsea’s trip to face Wolves was chosen to be broadcast that day by Sky Sports. Supporters’ trusts from both clubs criticised the move amid travel and staffing concerns.
In the WSL, meanwhile, it has been a bone of contention when fixtures involving significant travel distance are chosen for the 6:45pm TV slot on a Sunday evening when public transport options are limited or non-existant and fans could be getting home as late as the early hours of Monday morning.