England ask Premier League to avoid ‘Big Six’ clashes and derbies on eve of 2022 World Cup

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England ask Premier League to avoid ‘Big Six’ clashes and derbies on eve of 2022 World Cup
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England manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed the FA have asked the Premier League to consider not scheduling derbies and matches between ‘Big Six’ teams the weekend before the World Cup starts.

The final weekend of Premier League matches before the tournament in Qatar will take place on November 12 and 13, with England kicking off their campaign eight days later on November 21 against Iran.

Given the tight turnaround, Southgate has revealed a preference for no big games to take place in that final weekend - but he appreciates the Premier League have a lot to consider when creating the fixture schedule.

The FA have formally asked the Premier League to consider granting Southgate’s wish, with the fixtures for the new season due to be announced on June 16.

“We have asked the Premier League to have a think about things,” said Southgate.

“But we also understand that... the fixture programme is very complicated, you can't have Manchester City the same weekend as Manchester United [at home] and so there's all of those variations that we recognise are tough.

“We’d have a preference for none of those big games, but to be honest the difference it's going to make is fairly marginal.

“It could help us with perhaps a medical report if a team played Saturday, it would give us an extra day to assess. Because we're going to have to meet on the Monday and fly on the Tuesday and we're going to have to make really quick decisions on medical situations in particular.

“So that's the only thing that we're looking at that, that might help us, but we understand the landscape. We’d be stupid not to ask the question if it could make a difference.”

Southgate has spoken of the issue before, raising the matter back in March.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

“What would help is if we don't get a derby or those sorts of ‘Big Six’ games,” he said back then. “But it’s not the fault of the league the World Cup is being held in the winter.”

England take on Hungary on Tuesday, which is the final game of their four-match stretch this month. After that, they will meet again in September for two final matches - which are against Germany and Italy in the Nations League.

That will be the last time Southgate sees his players before naming his World Cup squad, with the England manager unable to fit in any other camps or meets due to the packed schedule.

“There’s going to be midweek fixtures every week, whether that’s a couple of League Cup weeks but definitely six European weeks and midweeks with Premier League games,” he added.

“So you just won’t be able to [meet up]. I’ve got to bear in mind the load for the players and to drag them in for a meeting probably wouldn’t achieve very much and would actually end up being detrimental rather than anything else.”

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