Supporter groups from all 20 clubs in the top flight have called on the Premier League to reverse the decision to reschedule Wolves v Chelsea for Christmas Eve this year.
The match had been slated for 23 December but was moved to fulfil broadcasting requirements. The Football Supporters’ Association called the decision a “huge kick in the teeth” for matchgoing fans and has released separate statements from organisations in its network highlighting their disapproval.
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The statements include responses to the proposed match, the first since Leeds’s 3-1 win against Manchester United in 1995, from Chelsea’s three main supporter organisations and the Wolves fan group, Wolves 1877 Trust.
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said they will urge the Premier League to consult supporters on the matter and reverse the decision in a meeting that will be “held very soon”. In a statement the Trust said: “Since rumours began to circulate on this issue, the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust has been clear that selecting this kick-off time will place another hurdle in the way of many matchgoing supporters. Not only could this lead to staffing issues at Molineux, but holiday transport timetables will further inconvenience supporters.”
The Chelsea supporters’ group outlined opposition on the basis of the ongoing impact of the cost of living crisis: “Increasing the demands on loyal fans from Wolves and Chelsea at a time of year that provides additional challenges is and should have been avoidable. The Premier League has not held a fixture on this date for 28 years; why does it need to do so now?”
Chelsea have said they will offer free coach travel to fans for the fixture, which will be available when match tickets go on sale.
Wolves 1877 Trust called the decision “irresponsible” and claimed the Premier League and broadcasters do not think about the logistics for fans, saying: “The Trust see the Premier League, and broadcasters, as uncaring and irresponsible in their decision-making processes. Repeatedly they are late with their fixture change announcements. Repeatedly they have disregard for the travel impacts on supporters due to scheduling changes.”
The Trust said it would be seeking a “direct” meeting alongside the FSA, Premier League and Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, and has hit out at Wolves’ failure to consult “according to Premier League rules” on matters that affect supporters. “We are disappointed that the club have chosen not to use any of the channels available to them to consult with supporters,” the Trust said.
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Liverpool’s Spirit of Shankly group criticised the decision, asking why “Sky Sports wants to steal Christmas”, referring to the idea of Arsenal v Liverpool being floated for Christmas Eve in 2017 before the idea was abandoned.