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Fixture congestion: When will the Premier League’s postponed games be played?

by: fifa2022newsnet


The Premier League postponed all games that were due to be played from Saturday through Monday as a mark of respect after the death of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96.

Calling off matches in a season that has been truncated by the winter World Cup, which kicks off in Qatar on Nov. 20, means finding a place to play the games is no easy task.

Here we take a look at the games that have been called off, other fixtures that are at risk, and possible solutions.

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Which games have been postponed?

All matches in the seventh round of fixtures.

– Olley: How Premier League came to a stop

AFC Bournemouth vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Arsenal vs. Everton
Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United
Fulham vs. Chelsea
Leeds United vs. Nottingham Forest
Leicester City vs. Aston Villa
Liverpool vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Southampton vs. Brentford
West Ham United vs. Newcastle United

Are any other games at risk of being postponed?

The Queen’s funeral will be held on Monday, Sept. 19, which would not directly impact the Premier League as the two-week international break begins on the same day. But the matches due to be played the weekend before it, Sept. 16-18, are under threat.

Police resources will be required for the days leading up to the funeral and that means football matches might not be able to take place for safety reasons. Rangers’ Champions League game against Napoli, which was scheduled to be played on Tuesday, has been moved to Wednesday because of the resources needed while the Queen’s coffin, which is expected to be flown to London on Tuesday evening, is in Scotland.

The Queen’s coffin will lie in state at Westminster Hall in central London from Thursday through to Sunday, and this puts games in London area (matches in bold) in doubt — especially the two scheduled for the Sunday. Chelsea vs. Liverpool could, logistically at least, move forward a day and be played on the Saturday, but Arsenal are in Europa League action on Thursday evening so could only play on the Sunday.

It’s the resources needed to police the hundreds of thousands of people expected to visit Westminster Hall over the weekend, as well as those arriving into the capital city to line the streets for the state funeral on Monday, which will stretch the police.

Friday, Sept. 16, 2022
Aston Villa v Southampton
Nottingham Forest v Fulham

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City
Brighton & Hove Albion P-P Crystal Palace*
Newcastle United v AFC Bournemouth
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City

Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022
Brentford v Arsenal
Chelsea v Liverpool
Everton v West Ham United
Manchester United v Leeds United

*Brighton vs. Palace was postponed on Wednesday due to a planned train strike. That industrial action has now been cancelled, but there is no news about the game being reinstated on Sept. 17.

The Premier League and the EFL could choose to postpone all matches as a mark of respect before the funeral, but this is unlikely.

What about the games in European competition?

Arsenal, Man United and West Ham all played their games in the Europa League and Europa Conference League on Thursday. Arsenal were already in action against FC Zurich when the news of the Queen’s death broke, while United and West Ham were preparing for kickoff.

There had been speculation that next week’s games in those two competitions, as well as the six games featuring British clubs in the Champions League, could be called off. But all these ties are set to go ahead as scheduled, bar the Rangers game being moved to Wednesday.

Chelsea vs. FC Salzburg is unlikely to be affected even though the Queen’s coffin will be transferred from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall in an official procession earlier on Wednesday, nor Arsenal’s evening kickoff against PSV Eindhoven on the Thursday.

Tuesday, Sept. 13
Liverpool vs. Ajax
Sporting CP vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Wednesday, Sept. 14
Chelsea vs. FC Salzburg
Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund
Rangers vs. Napoli
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Celtic

Thursday, Sept. 15
Arsenal vs. PSV Eindhoven
RFS vs. Hearts
Sheriff vs. Man United
Silkeborg vs. West Ham

When could the postponed games be played?

This is the big question, and there is no available date in 2022.

Every midweek after the upcoming international break through to the start of the World Cup is being used; four rounds of European games, a full set of Premier League matches and the third round of the Carabao Cup.

English football restarts on the midweek of Dec. 20 — just two days after the World Cup final — with the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, followed by three blocks of Premier League matches over the Christmas period.

This list shows how congested the schedule will be in 2023, with only three vacant midweeks built in through to the final day of the Premier League season on Sunday, May 28.

Jan. 10 – Carabao Cup QF
Jan. 17 – FA Cup R3 replays
Jan. 24 – Carabao Cup SF L1
Jan. 31 – Carabao Cup SF L2
Feb. 7 – FA Cup R4 replays
Feb. 14 – European competition knockouts
Feb. 21 – European competition knockouts
Feb. 28 – FA Cup R5
March 7 – European competition knockouts
March 14 – European competition knockouts
March 21 – International break
March 28 – International break
April 4 – Vacant midweek
April 11 – European competition QF
April 18 – European competition QF
April 25 – Premier League fixtures
May 2 – Vacant midweek
May 9 – European competition SF
May 16 – European competition SF
May 23 – Vacant midweek

Teams who have been knocked out of the Carabao Cup or the FA Cup in an earlier round could use those matchdays if necessary, though it becomes complicated if that league game is due to be shown on TV as it shouldn’t be scheduled against the broadcaster of the cup competition.

The midweeks in late January reserved for the Carabao Cup semifinals offer a solution — but there will still be four clubs ruled out and the same issue with the TV clash applies.



Supporters at Thursday night’s European action involving Manchester United, West Ham and Arsenal paid respects to Queen Elizabeth II following her death.

So just play the games in the vacant midweeks?

It’s not quite that simple as those three vacant midweeks are there for a reason. The clubs involved in the Carabao Cup final (Feb. 26) plus the FA Cup quarterfinals (March 18) and semifinals (April 22) will all need to rearrange the league matches scheduled for these dates, and that’s primarily what the vacant slots are for.

It’s especially a problem for teams who go far in a European competition as there is little room for manoeuvre. If a club were to reach the finals of both domestic cups, and get to the semifinals of the Europa League or the Europa Conference League, there are only just enough available dates to rearrange the three league matches from the dates outlined above. Add in any more rearranged games, and it’s a struggle to find a slot.

It’s slightly different for a team that reaches the Champions League final, as Liverpool did last season when also reaching the finals of the FA Cup and Carabao Cup. Clubs in the UCL have two extra spare midweeks during the round of 16, which Liverpool used to play Leeds United and Arsenal, thus avoiding added congestion further into a season which had already been affected by COVID-19 postponements.

The Premier League has to look at these dates and take into account the worst-case scenario.

What about the European midweeks?

There is a Memorandum Of Understanding between the leagues and UEFA that matches won’t be played at the same time as Champions League matches, if at all possible. In 2013, UEFA fined the Premier League £1.1m for doing so, deducting funds from solidarity payments. This has been relaxed in recent years, though leagues are still advised to avoid a clash if possible.

Last week, Lorient played Lyon in Ligue 1 in a game postponed from the beginning of the season. It was scheduled on a Thursday to avoid a clash with the UCL, kicking off early at 7 p.m. local time so it would only be on at the same time as the early set of European matches.

So, the Premier League could use the European midweeks if it feels there is no other place to put the games, and that applies to 13 of the 20 Premier League teams.

Of course, that could be no good to the other seven teams who are in Europe: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United.

It’s those clubs who pose the problems for the schedulers — and four of them play in London next weekend and could have another game called off. They are most likely to go far in both domestic cups, too.

But at the same time it presents a solution, of sorts.

As mentioned in the last section, teams who go through in the Champions League will have two extra midweeks in February and March, as the round of 16 is spread across four midweeks and teams will play on only two of them.

It’s a similar story for teams who win their Europa League or Europa Conference League group. They will go straight through to the round of 16, and not play in the two European dates in February.

However, any of the seven clubs who finish third in the Champions League, second or third in the Europa League, or second in the Europa Conference League will have to play two games in the first knockout round in February and two games in the round of 16 in March. They would be in danger of running out of dates.

So what’s the solution?

It’s really all about the six postponed games involving those teams in Europe.

Arsenal vs. Everton
Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United
Fulham vs. Chelsea
Liverpool vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur
West Ham United vs. Newcastle United

The Premier League will probably hope to fit everything in on the vacant midweeks, which won’t be a problem as long as clubs avoid the Europa League and Europa Conference League knockout round in February.

If it’s decided there needs to be some creative thinking — especially if any of next weekend’s matches have to be postponed for security reasons — the obvious solution is to cancel FA Cup replays in the third and fourth rounds once again. This happened in each of the last two seasons due to congestion caused by COVID-19 postponements and would open up the two extra midweeks required to prevent any issues further down the line. However, right not that seems unnecessary.

If FA Cup replays stay in place it’s unlikely, though not impossible, those dates could be used for rearranged games because the availability of teams would only be known at short notice.

There’s no chance the Carabao Cup could be cancelled, but there could be pressure to make the semifinals one-legged to open up a midweek. Again, this is an unlikely outcome.

Swapping around the FA Cup final (June 3) and the last day of the Premier League (May 28) would add an extra midweek on May 30 — though the Europa League final is being played on the Wednesday of that week. There would also be additional logistical issues, as Wembley is booked for the EFL playoffs on the weekend of May 27-29, making this solution is very unlikely too.

Can the season be extended?

No. After the FA Cup final on June 3, the Champions League final is scheduled for June 10 and immediately afterward there’s an international block reserved for Euro 2024 qualifying matches.

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