The Premier League has taken a lot of heat over the past week amid its 10-point sanction of Everton as it tries to clamp down on rule breaches.
The competition has grown exponentially in its 31 years of existence to reach a stratospheric realm that has to go down as one of England’s finest productions. Around a record £5.5billion of revenue was generated in the 2021/22 season with that figure rising as the years roll on.
TV broadcasting rights account for a significant portion of the income, which in turn helps grow the game to ever-widening audiences. With these rights packages come the opportunity for broadcasters to pick which games are chosen for which game slots.
Aside from the traditional 3pm blackout, TNT Sports currently has pick over which matches it shows in the Saturday lunchtime slot while Sky Sports has the majority sway over the rest. Many within Premier League dugouts are unhappy with the early kick-off times.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp engaged in a famous on-air spat with interviewer Des Kelly in 2020 over the matter following a draw with Brighton. The presenter rightly pointed out that the time slot argument was actually one for the Premier League, who make it available for coverage.
Klopp's side are due to travel to the Etihad to take on Manchester City in the 12.30pm kick-off on Saturday and has complained about the quick turnaround for players after the international break, particularly those in South America.
“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,” Klopp said. “And it is the moment where the world pays the most to see a football game.
“These two teams could have, all together, about 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 and Colombia. One game, one plane, they all come back. We just have to make sure we are ready for this game.”
But a few weeks earlier, after his side’s 3-1 win over West Ham, Guardiola also slammed the schedule. “These guys were playing 90 minutes for the national teams and [Julian Alvarez] travelled like from Bolivia and Ederson from Brazil. It’s so exhausting for them.
“Just take a look at how many injuries there are for all the teams. Look at [Edson] Alvarez of West Ham after 15/20 minutes of the second half he’s out.
“Why? He’s come from South America jet lagged, 12, 13 hours come here to play against City. We treat the players in not a good way. We are so irresponsible in how we treat the players.”
Later that month he called on players to stand up against UEFA and FIFA to enact change, saying he feels managers are not listened to. Given the hectic post-Covid schedule plus a mid-season World Cup, it is no wonder clubs - City included - are suffering so many injuries.
Perhaps Saturday’s game will be more about who is able to recover and regroup best rather than top-tier precision quality.
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