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Liverpool got off lightly in Christmas fixture chaos – but fans lose out again

It was, of course, inevitable that the much-delayed release of the Premier League fixture list for the festive period would be met by disapproval from Liverpool fans.

The league and its broadcasters’ lack of consideration had already been underlined by the failure to meet their own October 21 deadline for the announcement of games up to December 13.

And it was no surprise, either, that they had reneged on a promise made just days ago to confirm kickoff times “early this week.”

In the end, the Reds were mercifully spared from the Christmas Eve fixture that has been the source of much of the controversy relating to this tranche of games.

But supporters were still left with reason to fume: namely, the sporting consequences of the short turnaround between trips to Sheffield United and Crystal Palace on December 6 and 9 respectively.

This concern certainly holds legitimacy given that BT Sports (now TNT) agreed not to subject teams competing in the Champions League to the Saturday 12.30pm kickoffs after they had played on Wednesday evening.

Yet that relatively new rule does not apply to domestic fixtures, and so Liverpool find themselves contending with a compromised recovery between two tough away games.

In truth, though, Jurgen Klopp‘s side have otherwise fared well in terms of how things have fallen for them over what should be the most congested part of the festive period.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 19, 2023: Liverpool's Dominik Szoboszlai lines-up before during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

They will enjoy a 72-hour rest between hosting Arsenal then heading to Burnley, and a further 146 (and a half!) hours to then hosting Newcastle.

That this run comprises two home games either side of a short trip up the road to Lancashire should also be considered a major benefit for Klopp and his team.

If, despite that good fortune, Liverpool still consider the 12.30pm kickoff at Crystal Palace in early December worthy of significant protest, then they should perhaps raise it the next time the domestic TV rights come up for auction.

That trip to Selhurst Park will be the Reds’ fourth appearance in the early slot this term, with clubs able to be selected there a maximum of six times and a minimum of once over the course of the season.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 21, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 243rd Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Clearly, the gap between that upper and lower limit on picks leaves too much room for unevenness across the league, particularly for a club with such obvious appeal to broadcasters as Liverpool.

But if they feel the margins have gone against them on that front this term, then it would be sensible to make the point ahead of signing off the next lucrative TV deal.

And regardless, any complaints on that front do not help the group of people who have been most obviously shafted by the Premier League‘s latest festive fixture list: matchgoing supporters.

Liverpool might have avoided the worst of the scheduling this time, but spare a thought for those Chelsea and Wolves fans who are being asked to attend a game on Christmas Eve.

PRESTON, ENGLAND - Monday, August 7, 2023: Liverpool supporters during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and SV Darmstadt 98 at Deepdale. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The same goes for Arsenal and Newcastle supporters, who must somehow get home from Anfield without the aid of public transport after late kickoffs on December 23 and New Year’s Day respectively.

They will, inevitably, evidence their unwavering loyalty in showing up anyway, providing the soundtrack and colour that makes the Premier League so appealing to broadcasters in the first place.

But you do wonder when, rather than complaining about kickoffs that don’t aid their sporting aims, clubs might see value in arguing the case for their fans, too.