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How to Improve the Premier League Weekend Fixtures

4912570915 c260ed100b How to Improve the Premier League Weekend Fixtures

I realize that what I will suggest will border on being sacrilegious in the eyes of English football traditionalists, but here goes: The weekend Premier League football schedule needs to change.

Let me explain.

This past weekend’s matches in the Premier League were very entertaining (except for the Sunderland against Fulham game). But the shame of it all was that we soccer fans didn’t get to enjoy the common experience of watching the same games at the same time. Most of us probably watched Norwich against Arsenal, Swansea versus Manchester United, Chelsea against Liverpool, and may watch Aston Villa against Tottenham Hotspur. Out of the 10am ET games on Saturday, I would guess that the vast majority of TV soccer viewers watched Manchester City against Newcastle. Right?

So that means that the majority of viewers missed watching these games live: Stoke against QPR, West Brom vs Bolton, Wigan versus Blackburn, Sunderland against Fulham, and Everton v Wolves. Those were five games that were largely overlooked by most soccer fans because it’s difficult to watch more than one game at one time.

The shame is that, out of all of the games from this past weekend (other than Chelsea against Liverpool), the two most entertaining ones were Wigan against Blackburn and Stoke City versus Queens Park Rangers.

So here’s my recommendation. Why not spread the Premier League matches out over the weekend to allow TV viewers from around the world the chance to see more Premier League games, thus increasing TV ratings and helping promote the Premier League? Traditionalists will argue that the 3pm GMT kick-off time is done for a reason, to allow football supporters in the United Kingdom to utilize transport (either public or their own) to attend matches (home and away). But the reality is that the three o’clock kick-off is no longer a norm in the Premier League. That ship has sailed long ago.

Taking this past weekend’s matches as an example, here’s how I would have liked to see the matches shown on television:

Friday, November 18:

  • Wigan v Blackburn, 8pm GMT
Saturday, November 19:
  • Norwich vs Arsenal, 12:45pm GMT
  • Manchester City v Newcastle United, 3pm GMT
  • Stoke City v Queens Park Rangers, 5pm GMT
  • Swansea v Manchester United, 7pm GMT
Sunday, November 20:
  • Everton v Wolves, Noon GMT
  • Sunderland v Fulham, 2pm GMT
  • Chelsea v Liverpool, 4pm GMT
  • West Bromwich Albion v Bolton, 6pm GMT
Monday, November 21:
  • Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur, 8pm GMT

The advantages of the above schedule are that (1) it allows TV viewers to see more games live instead of missing some or seeing some on delay, (2) it gives teams more exposure for those clubs that often get overlooked, and (3) it extends the Premier League weekend to include a Friday night match as well as a late Sunday kick-off.

The disadvantage is that finding train service on a Sunday night is difficult in England (from personal experience trying to get from Blackburn to London after 6pm GMT on a Sunday night). You would think by now, in this day and age, that train times would be better in England, but that’s a different topic for another blog to cover.

If the Premier League had a schedule like the one above, one game would roll into another one and so on. With TV rights for the Premier League continuing to increases overseas while domestic TV rights in the United Kingdom are projected to fall, it’s time for the Premier League to consider adapting its schedule.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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