Arsene Wenger has hit out at the influence TV has on the fixture list, claiming that some sides have the ability to lean on broadcasters and thus move their fixtures to allow for more recovery time during the busy periods in the season – when even an extra day could mean a better performance from players – yet is this not slightly hypocritical given the sheer amount of money that is generated from TV in the Premier League these days, and especially to the top clubs?
Yes, Wenger may join the long line of managers complaining about fixtures, and it is entirely possible that the TV schedule can change a fixture a day either side of its original date, yet a great number of other factors can also change this, such as appearances in European competitions, cup replays or advancing in domestic cups and it is not entirely dependant on one team or one person to change the fixture.
Now don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe the fixture list is about as random a coincidence as Mourinho, Kenyon and Cashley Cole turning up at the same hotel, but when it comes to TV fixtures, it will always be the top teams who feature more often than not, thus have their fixtures selected by TV broadcasters and moved around ever so slightly.
Wenger states that his problem is that other managers can influence the TV companies to favour their sides and give extra recovery time, using the example of ‘if it is your best friend at sky…’ yet it is doubtful that both AVB, Fergie, King Kenny and Mancini are all best friends with the top brass at Sky or ESPN, and any one of the top managers could reel out stats that suit their purpose in an argument – over the course of a season there will be fixtures moved for everyone that are not ideal, and the more successful you get the more likely this is to happen – or in the Manchester clubs case, the less successful you are, the more you find yourselves playing on Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons – even if Fergie’s best friend was Harry Potter, he still be playing Europa league and have to suffer the fixture nightmare as a result.
Wenger also states that we have ‘sold our soul’ to TV, yet quite like the ever hypocritical Sandro Rosell who moans about the Far East whilst speaking in the Far East or indeed Mancini who moans about other players gesturing for cards whilst waving an imaginary one from the touchline so enthusiastically he could be auditioning for a job in Vegas, Wenger is more than happy to take the huge amount of money generated from this.
Wenger has called on the Premier League to step in and stop the sinful changes by Sky and ESPN to the fixture list, but one suspects that even this would not be enough – managers will always find something to complain about, and even if the Premier League did stop any outside control, I am as certain that Wenger would complain as I am that Andrew Carroll could not finish his dinner let alone a chance from 10 yards out.