Sources: FA want new ‘Big 6’ plan ahead of WC
The English Football Association (FA) have submitted a formal request to the Premier League asking for matches between the “Big Six” not to be scheduled on the weekend before the World Cup starts, sources have told ESPN.
England manager Gareth Southgate is concerned about the eight-day turnaround between the pause in the domestic season and the first round of games in Qatar, with the Three Lions due to play Iran in Doha on the opening day, Nov. 21.
The Premier League’s final fixtures before the tournament take place on Nov. 12-13 and ESPN can reveal that the FA have asked that no games between Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham occur on that weekend.
Fixtures for the Premier League are generated at random through a system developed by Atos — a digital company used since the league’s inception in 1992 — but subjected to certain “golden rules.”
These include no team playing more than two consecutive matches at home or away, and two clubs in close proximity in the same city — for example Everton and Liverpool or City and United — both playing at home on the same day for policing reasons.
The FA believe it is therefore reasonable to add a special golden rule on a one-off basis given the Qatar World Cup’s unusual scheduling in the middle of the regular season.
The Premier League declined to comment when contacted by ESPN over whether the request would be granted but are believed to be considering it.
Southgate highlighted the issue when speaking about the difficulties posed by a winter World Cup in March.
“What would help is if we don’t get a derby or those sorts of ‘big six’ games,” he said at the time.
“But it’s not the fault of the League the World Cup is being held in the winter.”
The FA declined to comment when contacted by ESPN.