So it’s looking likely that Arsenal v Liverpool may well be played on Christmas Eve. With a 4pm kick-off. Live on Sky Sports. People who know me will testify that I’m a very big football fan, yet even so, I think this is a disgrace.
Let’s start at the reasons it’s happened.
This year Christmas Day is on a Monday. The Saturday before Christmas has been declared by the Premier League as a ‘normal’ game week. As a normal week, this means Sky and BT get to play spin the bottle to choose which games they show. It’s fair to say Arsenal v Liverpool is the game of the week.
Now, Sky have looked objectively at this, subscribers want to watch the games, advertisers want to pay Sky, so Sky asked to have the big game to show. The best audience figures are the Sunday games. Sky asked to move the game to the Sunday. Except this year, the Sunday is Christmas Eve. Sky are obviously betting that they’ll get a huge audience on Christmas eve, with everyone crowded around the TV. I’m not so sure though.
So, what are my objections?
To begin with, Sunday’s are bad enough for public transport, this being the only way to get to Arsenal’s stadium realistically, but you’d get through that normally. But on Christmas Eve…it doesn’t bare thinking about.
I’ve worked in retail on Christmas Eve, it’s generally done and all over by lunch time.
I’ve travelled on public transport on Christmas Eve. It’s done and all over by lunch time too.
Because people want to be at home or with their family, going to see Grandma in her bungalow, starting the bottle of Christmas Mint Baileys or Port, nibbling on a mince pie or some Quality Street, watching Polar Express with their kids…they really don’t want to be battling the crowds after dark, in London, at St Pancras or Euston, desperate for a train, trying to get 200 miles north to be home for the morning. Forget any chance of Midnight Mass by the way if that’s your jam.
And watching it on TV, really, is that what we want on Christmas Eve? Like I say, I’m a big football person, and I’m not sure I want it. I want to be helping prep the dinner, I want to be wrapping the last presents, I want Christmas music on the radio, I want to sit with a glass of wine with my feet up feeling warm and fuzzy, I want to have a few bits of cheese and crackers…I can’t think of anything worse than ignoring the wife and kids and watching two hours of football on this day. Boxing Day is fine, I’ve had enough of the family by then.
What about the players too? They are obviously paid vast sums to just get on with it, but they are still human, have families and this is hitting them. I doubt they’ll be fully at it.
What about the staff and the stewards at the ground? They will mostly have families too. I gather that the availability of Stewards is perhaps the main thing placing the game in any doubt right now.
There is a fixture programme on Boxing Day remember, this is a traditional football day. Moving the Arsenal Liverpool game though means their Boxing Day game will be moved to the Wednesday. So, Arsenal and Liverpool fans are losing their Boxing Day game because of this. I hope the fans take the opportunity to go and see some non-League on Boxing Day instead, or just maybe go for a nice walk with the family.
The point here is I’m just not sure people want it on Christmas Eve. Already TV audiences are down on football, I genuinely hope the stadium is half full and the game gets shocking viewing figures on TV, it’s the only way to stop this happening again. Actually, it’d be really funny if the game was snowed off, but it would have been fine for the Saturday…that’d teach them!