Liverpool are objecting to a proposal by Sky Sports to switch their Premier League game at Arsenal to Christmas Eve, a plan that has been accused of showing “zero regard for supporters”.
The Anfield club are aware of the proposal to move their trip to the Emirates Stadium from Saturday 23 December to Sunday 24 December with a 4pm kick-off. Liverpool have registered strong opposition to the Premier League and the broadcaster, arguing it would be prohibitive for supporters to have to travel to London on Christmas Eve. The last train from London Euston to Liverpool leaves at 9.21pm that day and will only arrive at Lime Street in the early hours of Christmas Day.
Liverpool will continue to voice their opposition to the proposals before Sky Sports announces its festive schedule next month. However, it is the Premier League which will decide whether the disruptive fixture goes ahead. Sky Sports are paying £11m per Premier League game under the current broadcasting deal and it is believed their preference is to have a live match on Christmas Eve.
Sky declined the opportunity to broadcast live in 2000 and 2006, but the mass appeal of Arsenal v Liverpool has encouraged a rethink this year. Liverpool are also scheduled to play Swansea City on Boxing Day and Leicester City on 30 December, at home, and a game on Christmas Eve could have implications for the timing of both matches.
The proposal has also been condemned by the Liverpool supporters’ union, Spirit of Shankly. A statement read: “[We] have been made aware that Liverpool’s away fixture against Arsenal, scheduled for 23 December, is being considered for a move to Christmas Eve.
“It is our understanding that Arsenal have been asked if they can staff such a fixture and the Metropolitan police have been approached for their view. Changing the date to Christmas Eve would have untold impact on staff and supporters, particularly away fans. Depending on kick-off time, and depleted public transport links, the majority of travelling Liverpool supporters would not get home until the early hours of Christmas morning.
“SOS are contacting relevant personnel to put forward our case that it is completely unacceptable to expect fans to travel for a match at this time. The suggestion of such a change again shows zero regard for supporters – much like the corresponding fixture where Euston station was closed over Bank Holiday weekend.”