What happened to Easter football?

by   |   17/04/2017  14 Comments  [Jump to last]

Remember them playing games Saturday and Monday during the Easter weekend?

I could just leave the article at that and let the message boards do the rest.Seriously, though, since 2007 we’ve only played a double-header at Easter once (in 2012). Who OK’d this? Why haven’t more fans kicked off about this?

To me, the Easter weekend is as big a tradition as playing on Boxing Day. A pivotal moment in the title race and relegation scrap, a real test of everyone’s squad, an unmissable weekend. Can you imagine if they scrapped the Boxing Day matches to have a much mooted winter break? There’d be uproar, especially in the media. The scrapping of the Easter weekend football seems to have gone unnoticed though.

One of the reasons for this may be that they didn’t actually announce that it wouldn’t happen anymore – they just didn’t put Easter Monday in the fixture list anymore and hoped no-one would notice. And the worst part is, it’s worked.

The first year of this, in 2008, I think it clashed with an international friendly so we kind of let that one go, but in the years that followed, there was no reason for it not to happen. So why have they done this?

I think the biggest reason is Europe. Teams playing mid-week games before and after Easter couldn’t be expected to play two games during the long weekend. For that to happen, though, it would mean at least one English club has reached the quarter finals of a European competition, so surely that would be a “good problem” for the Premier League to have as it would maintain their co-efficient with UEFA? Also, it would likely only affect a couple of clubs, so here’s a simple solution – re-schedule their games and allow everyone else to enjoy the Easter double header.

It might also be a matter of consistency – they can’t have it every year due to international games if Easter falls in March. That’s fine – just have it when you can. We don’t always play on New Years Day, it depends on how the calendar falls, but we still play on New Years Day when the calendar allows.

It could be that managers have been complaining about fixture congestion – you’ve seen Klopp crying 2 years in a row about having to play twice in 3 days over the Christmas period. Van Gaal used to moan about it too. But, although I’m going back 10 years, I don’t remember any complaints about playing twice in 3 days at Easter back then.

So the only other factor could be TV. Sky and BT wouldn’t be able to squeeze anywhere near as many games out of the “rounds” or “match-days” or whatever they call them if everyone was playing two games in the same weekend. In fact, until recently, showing live games on Easter Sunday was almost unheard of. Now, they treat Easter like any other weekend, even down to the fact that the Arsenal-Middlesbrough game is kicking off this evening when it could easily be played and shown in the daytime.

Also, with all the TV money being pumped in, clubs aren’t as dependant on gate receipts and so the Bank Holiday gate boost that used to happen at Easter maybe isn’t needed any more.

Whatever the reason, next time you’re traipsing out in inhospitable conditions and having to book time off work for a mid-week game in January, and are then spending Easter Monday in the garden centre or DIY store, remember, it shouldn’t be like this.I might re-do this article at the start of next season. Find and replace “Easter Monday” with “mid-week games in August”.

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