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Premier League and EFL players furious at the prospect of playing three matches in FIVE DAYS


Footballers across the Premier League and EFL are furious after being warned they face playing up to three matches in five days once the game returns.

Such a congested fixture list may be needed if the leagues are to meet their target of finishing by June 30 to avoid contractual and legal complications.

Players have also been informed that it is almost inevitable the season will restart behind closed doors.

Clubs from the Premier League down to League Two have as many as 10 League games to play and with football not due to restart until mid-May at the earliest, players face a gruelling schedule when competition recommences.

A large number of players have reservations about returning to action while coronavirus continues to spread as they fear contracting the illness and passing it on to family members.

And the prospect of playing three times in 120 hours, which would increase the possibility of muscular injuries, has added to fears that their concerns are not being considered.

Managers will have to rotate their teams significantly once the season restarts, which means some teams will have to rest key players for potentially crucial games during the finale. 

One source at a Championship club said: 'The scheduling is what it is, and everyone will be in the same boat. But it plays into the hands of those clubs who have deeper squads.'

One way of easing the schedule would be to extend the season into July, though clubs are keen to avoid that. Such a scenario would probably mean the start of next season is delayed until September to give players an adequate break.

Meanwhile, the Premier League and TV companies have discussed screening games every day over a six-week period. Top-flight chiefs will consider their next moves at a meeting with club executives next week. 

Some clubs fear it will be another two months before they resume and they have discussed how they will manage the fitness of their players who are training at home.

Some have floated the idea of giving players an extended break now before returning with a mini pre-season ahead of a restart. 

So far 54 Premier League matches that had been scheduled in March and April have been postponed. A further 30 are due to take place in May. The total of 84 matches leaves enough games outstanding for broadcasters to be able to show at least one every day over a month and a half.

Sky and BT Sports would also have the option of staggered kick-offs and using the red button facility on days when more than one match is being played to ensure every game is screened.

As reported by Sportsmail on Thursday, that could include showing games on Saturdays at 3pm, which has previously been banned. Although there are fears the plan places too much strain on players, the idea of having matches every day would be popular with supporters after a frustrating period of inactivity.

Making every game available for subscribers on TV may also help prevent fans congregating outside stadiums to cheer on their teams if games are behind closed doors.

The Premier League are determined to complete the season and fulfil the obligations of their £3billion TV deal. Not doing so could result in broadcasters pursuing money back for the games they have not been able to show, worth up to £750million across the divisions.

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