Jurgen Klopp led calls for common sense in the current fixture list at a Premier League meeting on Thursday, but concerns were met with a “wall” according to Antonio Conte.
It seems almost unanimous among Premier League managers that the festive schedule is not feasible for players, particularly given the current situation with COVID-19.
On Friday morning, Everton vs. Burnley became the third Boxing Day fixture to be called off due to a rise in cases, with Liverpool’s clash with Leeds also postponed as a result of a lack of personnel for the visitors.
Certain parties remain dubious when it comes to the reporting of cases, with Leeds claiming five positive tests among players and staff, which combined with their injury problems led to their application to push the game back.
This was among the issues raised by Klopp during a meeting between the Premier League, managers and players on Thursday, according to the Mirror‘s David Maddock.
Maddock reports that the Liverpool boss made a “passionate presentation” in which he described the traditional schedule of games played on both Boxing Day and December 28 as “inhumane.”
It is claimed that Klopp also insisted: “Clubs must be completely transparent relating to Covid cases, offering full information to the Premier League and to opponents, allowing preparation and planning, and also appropriate safety measures to be implemented.”
Premier League managers are also seeking a return of the five-sub rule for top-flight games, in order to allow them to manage the fitness of their players more sensibly.
However, speaking after the meeting, Tottenham manager Conte – who, like Klopp, wants the League Cup semi-finals to be cut to one leg rather than two – described the Premier League‘s standpoint as a “wall.”
“If I have to be honest, it was a meeting where we tried to speak and some coaches tried to speak, to ask about solutions but I think everything was [already] decided,” he said, according to the Guardian.
“It was a wall. For this reason, I prefer not [to] go into the discussion.”
Conte agreed that the meeting was a waste of time, adding: “When you have a wall in front of you, you can speak and ask for what you want, but every decision was taken.”
This would suggest that, though games continue to be called off, the Premier League will maintain their fixture list as intended.
However, it remains to be seen if leeway could be found when it comes to allowing managers to make five substitutions during a game, rather than three.