Chelsea FC are set to face London rivals Fulham FC on Saturday afternoon, just three days after returning from their Champions League tie in Istanbul against Galatasaray. Including travel time, this only gives the Chelsea squad two days of “rest” before an important derby against a suddenly resurgent Fulham side. Clubs from Italy or Germany participating in the Champions League are often able to reschedule their matches to accomodate their midweek matches. Friday matches are given for teams playing away the following Tuesday and Sunday matches if playing away the previous Wednesday.
Frank Lampard spoke about receiving some help from the FA but as usual he was pragmatic in his approach:
“It’s not ideal. We don’t expect any favours and certainly know we won’t get them. It’s about resting up and getting ready to go. I don’t know about the Premier League but other countries seem to look after their teams representing them in the Champions League. I’m not sure we do so much here. I’m not trying to get one over on other Premier League teams, it just seems a general rule. There could be a bit of common sense if you are getting back at 6am (on Thursday).”
The FA seems to be unmoved by claims like Lampard’s but he does raise a valid point. The moving of matches from Saturday to Friday may be difficult because it is not a weekend and many fans may not be able to attend but a switch to Sunday should provide little difficulty especially with enough advance notice. This is no excuse for the poor performance of English sides in the Champions League knockout stages so far but an extra day’s rest would benefit all those involved. Teams get an extra day to recover and the FA benefits from having Premier League teams in the later stages of the world’s premier club competition.
It may be too late for the FA to make any changes this year, if they make any at all, but this is something that should be looked in to. If the FAs in Germany and Italy can do it to help their clubs, then why not their English counterparts?
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