There have been concerns over how the 2022 World Cup in Qatar would affect club football scheduling since the idea of holding it in November and December first picked up traction. Now, the Premier League seems to have landed on a plan to accommodate the winter World Cup, and those concerns are becoming more and more legitimate.
According to a BBC Sport report, the PL’s plan is to start the 2022-23 season one week earlier and end it one week later than normal. This effectively adds two weeks to the season to make up for the month lost to the World Cup.
That math doesn’t quite add up, does it?
That’s because the rest of the lost time will be recovered by scheduling more midweek matches than clubs play in a standard season. The idea sounds eerily similar to the way the PL shoehorned a full slate of matches into a shortened season to make up for time lost thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic this past year.
For anyone with a short or selective memory, that condensed schedule led to an unprecedented increase in injuries as players were forced to play much too often without adequate time for rest and recovery between matches. The quality of play also suffered thanks to a plethora of injured stars and everyone who wasn’t injured simply being exhausted.
Now, it could be argued that there simply may not be a good way to work around a month-long break in the season. While that’s true (and it leads to a much longer discussion about the strain caused by international football in general), it still does not excuse the fact that the league is prepared to implement the same strategy that caused great harm to the overall well-being of its players in the season that literally just ended.
They had a perfect case study of how harmful that plan could be, and they still doubled down by seemingly deciding to go for round two in less than 18 months.
The good news is there’s still plenty of time for the PL to realize this is a mistake and try to come up with a better solution. The bad news is there’s not much hope for that from the same league that refused to extend the use of 5 substitutions beyond Project Restart, despite half the league’s managers begging for it for more than half the season.
Thank you Premier League for giving us one more reason to dread a World Cup in Qatar.