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Premier League Football on Christmas Eve

Wolves to Host Chelsea on Christmas Eve

In the latest round of Premier League fixture amendments for the festive period, the league has announced that the game between Wolves and Chelsea, originally scheduled to be played on 23rd December, has been moved to the following day on Christmas Eve, a decision which has left many fans disappointed and frustrated.

The Premier League opted to make the move in order to fulfil broadcasting requirements, with Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday this year. The game will have a 1 p.m. kick-off and will be shown live on Sky Sports.

When was Last Time a Fixture was Played on 24th December?

Christmas Eve fixtures are extremely rare in the Premier League, and Wolves vs Chelsea will be the first to take place on the date since 1995. This means that it is only the second Premier League fixture ever to take place on Christmas Eve.

The 1995 game saw Leeds United beat fierce rivals Manchester United 3-1, with goals from Gary McAllister, Tony Yeboah and Brian Deane proving the difference. Andy Cole scored an equaliser for the visitors.

This year’s match will be the only one played on Sunday, with the rest of the games played between Thursday and Saturday.

Inconveniences for fans

The scheduling of the game has presented logistical problems for travelling fans, and their discontent was made clear in a statement from the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust (CST) calling the decision ‘unacceptable’.

They said, ‘Since rumours began to circulate on this issue, the CST has been clear that selecting this kick-off time will place another hurdle in the way of many match-going supporters.’ They went on to say that they had requested a meeting with the relevant decision-makers in the hopes of reversing the decision.

Furthermore, the question was posed, ‘the Premier League has not held a fixture on this date for 28 years, why does it need to do so now?’ The Wolves Supporters’ Trust offered a similar sentiment, agreeing that the scheduling showed ‘a complete lack of consideration and respect for fans.’

With the logistics of having a game on Christmas Eve not straightforward, fans across the country are not happy with the lack of thought and care for fans from the Premier League. Whilst this only affects Wolves and Chelsea this year, it could be any other club in the future. The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) accused the league of putting ‘money first, fans last’ with the power that TV Broadcasters hold not sitting well with supporters. They have also confirmed that supporter groups from all 20 clubs have written to the league to voice their opposition.

Travelling fans will have to make the approximate two-and-a-half hour journey from London Euston to Wolverhampton should they opt for this form of transport. Currently there are no strikes planned for this journey, but due to holidays, options may be more limited than usual. The final train back to London is at 18:39.

Chelsea offer free bus travel for fans

In light of the fixture announcement, Chelsea announced that they would be offering free bus travel both to and from Wolverhampton on the day of the game, a gesture which will solve many issues for travelling supporters. This will be available when match tickets go on sale.

The club expressed gratitude towards the fans, recognising the commitment and loyalty of those supporting the team both home and away. They are adding free travel to the match ticket as ‘a sign of appreciation and goodwill.’

In response, the CST saying they are ‘pleased that Chelsea FC has recognised the commitment of match-going supporters and will provide free travel for our trip to Molineux.’ They did go on to reiterate their anger at the situation, once again calling it ‘unacceptable’.

Mauricio Pochettino’s thoughts

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino offered his opinions on the matter, joining supporters with his opposition of the scheduling. The Argentine said, ‘Our fans are not happy? Me neither.’

‘I’m not happy also because the 23rd is my anniversary and I need to travel to Wolves and I am not going to spend the night in my house. Then the 24th for Argentine people is a really important night and I hope to arrive in time to celebrate.’

Whilst fans’ travel is a cause for concern, taking players and coaches away from their families on an important day is also a common complaint, in what is already a hectic schedule. Pochettino hopes that this will just be a one-time thing, as he admits ‘it’s not easy to change.’ He does concede that they do also need to accept and adapt, even though they may not be happy with the situation. He shares the concerns of fans who fear this may set a precedent for years to come.

But for now, despite the increasing calls to reverse the decision, it seems that Wolves will be hosting the first Christmas Eve Premier League fixture for 28 years.

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