Common sense and, just maybe, the good of the fans has won out. It’s a touch shocking given the Premier League rarely puts the needs of the fans ahead of its commercial interests. Still, it appears that it has done that today following news that Liverpool will not face Arsenal on Christmas Eve.
There had been initial talk that the two sides could face off at 4PM on Saturday, December 24th at the behest of Sky. That led to pushback from the clubs and supporters’ groups, as well as a threat by Arsenal ushers that they might decide not staff the match if the league went ahead with their plans.
The compromise—at least as the league and broadcaster saw it—was to suggest that the game be kicked off at 2PM on the 24th rather than 4PM. And it appeared that, despite continuing pushback, in the end that would be the final decision. Or at least it did until today when they finally gave in.
Instead, the game will be played on the evening Friday the 22nd. Complaints by Arsenal stewards and concerns about how Liverpool fans would get home after the match seem to have won the day over Sky’s unfortunate desire to have a marquee match to broadcast on Christmas Eve this year.
And on that front, despite that Liverpool’s travelling fans won’t have to worry about how to make it home from London on Christmas Eve now, some set of supporters still might as the idea of a Christmas Eve game hasn’t been entirely ruled out despite the news that it won’t be Liverpool’s.
Sky, who had rights to the proposed Christmas Eve match, and BT Sport will announce their full holiday slate at 3PM GMT today.