Sunday, March 3, 2024

Wenger’s comments hint that Christmas Eve football is happening

Arsene Wenger has reacted to the possibility of a Christmas Eve fixture against Liverpool and admitted that clubs and fans are being dictated to by the demands of television.

However, rather than take the same approach as Jurgen Klopp who was roundly critical of the idea, the Arsenal manager was more open to it, saying that there should be a cut-off point for the kick off of no later than 2pm.

Wenger’s stance is more than likely because such a compromise has already been reached between the clubs and Sky, but not yet announced.

Speaking at his press conference today, he said, “Personally I would prefer to be at my home on Christmas night and celebrate Christmas, but I still feel that could happen if we played early on the day and what you wouldn’t like to sacrifice is the evening with the family for people.

“Overall we go towards society where religion isn’t considered anymore in any decision and where people want as well to watch football during the Christmas period.

“I know that we have to adapt to the schedule dictated by the television, but overall I would say if that happens personally I don’t think any game should be played after two o’clock at the latest on the 24th because Christmas Day in England is the 25th.”

It’s an issue which has caused a lot of backlash, and while it might suit some fans, many feel that they’re being asked to choose between football and family at a traditional time of the year.

It’s an issue for Liverpool fans too, who will have to travel from Merseyside and back on a day which is not optimal for public transport, and we asked Neil Atkinson of The Anfield Wrap for his thoughts on the manager’s comments and the issue in general.

“Wenger is, as ever, pragmatic and calm but I do think football should do what it can to say no to this in general,” he said.

“Beyond any notion of “decency” or religion, in the most basic sense the country doesn’t have the infrastructure for it. Speaking as someone normally relaxed about kick off times, Christmas Eve just all feels a bit unnecessary.

“I can see there is an issue here with legislation around Saturday football, protecting the 3pm but I would rather see that made an exception for this year on the 23rd than have supporters criss-crossing the country on a day it is invariably difficult to do so.

“In general it may well be worth asking what we mean and want from the Christmas calendar.”

What are your thoughts? Will it impinge on your festive period, or enhance it? We’ve created a poll to track people’s reaction to it – your votes are very welcome here.

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Crash Fistfight

I’m just spouting nonsense at this point, but why can’t the game be on the Friday evening if there are no slots available on Saturday for Sky to show it?

Pobert Rires

Isn’t Friday night terrible for Liverpool fans as well? And personally I think far more people will have social plans for the last Friday night before Christmas than they will for Christmas Eve.

Pobert Rires

I don’t have any issue with Christmas Eve in principle, how is it any different to Boxing Day? The one thing I would say is that they should have arranged matches with the difficult travelling in mind, Liverpool to Arsenal or Newcastle to West Ham is a bit unreasonable, no need.


Try traveling on Xmas Eve – its bad enough without 60k people trying to get to and from one location

Scott P

It just doesn’t feel right. It also won’t feel right going to bed with a full, satisfied stomach on Christmas Day and knowing we’ll have to wait a full extra day to watch the Arsenal play again while all the others get their Boxing Day treat.


Arsene and the players will no doubt get to spend Christmas Eve with their friends and family’s curtesy of a private jet, the travelling supporters however will not have this luxury.
I am complete against the idea but will I be watching on sky sports? Of course I will, that’s the problem!

Red Fred

I tending to blame the FA for this mess. We all know couldn’t give a shit about the fans. The FA should have done due diligence and foreseen the problem when offering the contract. We all hear that it’s in the contract all the clubs agreed. Well put clauses in the contract. No games on Xmas eve,No fans should have to make travel arrangements over hundreds of miles for a very early kick off and that sort of thing. Not loads just a few sensible ones. And you know what sky will still bid even more than last time they… Read more »

John C

The FA doesn’t sell the rights for the Premier League, the Premier League, owned in equal parts by all 20 of the participating clubs sell the rights.

Evang. Femi

What do sky want to achieve by playing on Christmas eve…… Well my wedding will be coming up in the 23rd so I will like the game to be shifted to boxing day…. Cos I don’t think my wife will give me time to watch the match while my wedding is ongoing…. Sky should please adjust….. I love my wife as much as I love Arsenal…. A three points gift will do just fine for me and my new family.


How will she feel about watching the game during your honeymoon ?


Call yourself a fan? – summer is the time for weddings (between Cup Final and World Cup start) ?.


Perhaps it’s just basic demand and supply, i doubt tv companies would be pushing towards this if nobody cared to watch. But i guess it’s easier to blame (only) those greedy tv and fa guys. That earlier poll is irrelevant, people *will* be watching. And nobody cares about the 60k at the emirates, but the millions in front of the tv.

Lord Bendnter

Agree, it’s the ones in front of the TV screens that matter to Sky


How long before TV companies decide the season’s fixture lists?


I am atheist.If i am said not to be one than Bergkamp is my god.. Arsenal is my religion.

Lord Bendnter

I’m not a Christian, but I think it’s quite ridiculous to have a Christmas Eve game when clearly it’s a time of family festivity amongst most Christian supporters based in the UK.

John C

The Premier league (and by extension Arsenal), have sold the TV rights in the form of time slots, so this was always going to be a problem as Christmas Eve just happened to be included in one of the packages. As no one had the foresight to see if there was going to be a clash, 2 premier league teams are going to have to suck it up and play. This is what happens when you sell your soul to the devil, there was no coercion involved and as far as i’m aware all parties entered into the agreement in… Read more »


I won’t be able to attend this fixture if it moves, its a big game and as a ST holder I’d like to go. No doubt my ticket will be snapped up by a tourist, so the seat is taken, the club makes extra money and the TV gets what it wants. Its a nonsense decision

Andy Mack

As I understand it, like all PL clubs, Arsenal have no control over when the game is played.
It’s he Police that have said it couldn’t happen as they don’t have the resources to police the event properly.
So how can Arsenal and Sky be coming to an agreement on it?


Arsenal are part of Premier League which allocates the contracts and thus had complete control. The Police are the ones who could save it for the fans.

Andy Mack

Yes, PL/AFC have given away pretty much all rights over the games, to Sky.
But they can’t play the game without the correct legal requirements which includes the police ‘policing’ the event to some level, which was where the original request was stopped.
So shouldn’t it be ‘The Police coming to an agreement’ with either AFC or SKY, not AFC with Sky.

banjo string

Baggsy Santa’s ticket.?


Unless we act collectively this stuff will just keep on happening. Footballing culture is what the fans contribute and it is being completely undermined at all sides. It doesn’t matter what any one individual says – it is never enough.


I think its stupid for a number of reasons and I wont watch it.

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