Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has raised the possibility that players and managers could go on strike as concerns over welfare of footballers ahead of the busy Christmas schedule.
With matches being cancelled due to Covid-19 outbreaks across the country, an already stressful period for players and managers has taken on a different dimension.
Teams are expected to play on December 26 and then again on December 28, but the number of managers vocally criticising the scheduling in the Premier League is increasing.
City boss Guardiola went further than most during a recent press conference, suggesting that players could go on strike if nothing changes, although he admitted it is unlikely it would actually come to that.
“Should the players and the managers be all together and make a strike?” Manchester City’s manager said ahead of their Boxing Day clash with Leicester City.
“Just through words it’s not going to be solved. For FIFA, the Premier League, the broadcasters, the business is more important than their welfare.
“The simplest example is all around the world they have five substitutions; here it’s still three. Tell me one argument to take care of players’ welfare than this one? Here, where everyone decides for themselves, we didn’t do it.”
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The option of a circuit-breaker was recently put to Premier League clubs that would have seen the league put on hold for two weeks as Covid cases continued to rise.
However, the idea was voted down, meaning the busy Christmas period will go ahead with no additional breaks for players or coaches.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta recently hinted that the Gunners were in favour of a break.
“Obviously, we have a preference of what to do because of the schedule and the situation that we are in,” he told his press conference ahead of the Boxing Day clash with Norwich.
“Now we have to play, if we can, every single match with no recovery and less numbers. But we will try to do our best.”
Prior to Chelsea’s clash with Brentford in the Carabao Cup, Thomas Tuchel stated that the prospect of three matches in eight days excited him, rather than made him fear for his players.
“This is quite exciting. I watched it when I was not involved, now I am in the middle of it,” he said.
“It is nothing new to play three matches in a week but without nine or 10 players, it is challenging. So, we struggle a little bit but we find solutions.”
But ultimately he agreed with Guardiola that a solution is needed, but sympathised with the Premier League, saying finding a solution is not easy.
“I don’t have a solution for the schedule. I don’t know, it might have just delayed the problem,” he said.
“There are clubs who suffer a lot, we suffer very much at the moment so maybe it would be better to have a short break but I do not have a solution or a clear opinion of what we can do for everybody.”
Spurs manager Antonio Conte also expressed his frustration with the Premier League on Christmas Eve in his press conference.
The Italian was asked about the recent Premier League meeting set up to discuss Covid and scheduling over Christmas, but said that ‘everything was already decided’ before clubs could voice their opinion.
“I have to be honest, I think that it was a meeting that…yeah we tried to speak. Some coaches tried to speak to ask about solutions but I think everything was decided and yesterday was a wall,” he said.
“For this reason also, I prefer not to go into the discussion or conversation.”