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Fan groups call on PL to reverse Christmas Eve KO decision

Supporter organisations across the FSA’s Premier League Network have united in opposition to the decision made by the league and Sky Sports to show Wolves vs Chelsea on Christmas Eve 2023 – the first time such a scheduling decision has been made since 1995.

Below are statements from those supporter organisations across the division highlighting their disapproval over the decision and urging the Premier League and broadcasters to reverse this decision immediately.

AFC Bournemouth – Cherries Trust

The Cherries Trust support the Football Supporters Association, Wolves 1877 Trust, Chelsea Supporters Club, Chelsea Supporters Group and Chelsea Supporters Trust in opposing the principle of Premier League Football matches being played on Christmas Eve.

We understand that clubs are subject to the Premier League TV deal and the importance of the revenue for clubs received via that deal. However, whilst the Christmas football programme is a staple of festive celebrations across the country and television coverage is part of that, the stakeholders need to remember that family time is important too. Not just for the fans but for players, the club staff, public service workers, and emergency services. It is already an incredibly busy time of year for public transport, road users and the emergency services, and it is completely irresponsible to put further pressure on them.

Christmas Eve is a time when families are preparing for visitors and spending time together, maybe attending mass together. For many people, Christmas Eve is the main day over the Christmas period. It is a time when for all football should take a backseat. There has been no football fixture on Christmas Eve for 28 years, it should not be happening now.

We urge all stakeholders to rethink these plans and to start putting match-going football fans first.

Arsenal – Arsenal Supporters Trust

AST is concerned to hear that a Premier League game has been scheduled for Christmas Eve. There has been a long-standing precedent that this doesn’t happen for the obvious reasons of the impact it will have on match-going fans. We support calls for the Premier League to review this decision and urge greater consultation with fans on all kick-off times.

Arsenal – Arsenal Disabled Supporters Association

On behalf of our association and all disabled supporters, there is a total disregard for supporters to be with their families on Christmas Eve.

Many disabled supporters have difficulty finding personal assistants to attend with them at games and having a match on Christmas Eve will make it even harder as most will want to be with their loved ones.

All involved who made this decision should reschedule this game and for the future.

Arsenal Independent Supporters Association

Not really. But maybe next year…

After the Premier League has moved the Wolves vs Chelsea match to this coming Christmas Eve, who can say what might be heading our way in seasons to come?

There will be many upset families, with people having to choose between their love and unwavering loyal support of their team, and their children’s excitement at the arrival of Father Christmas. We know money and TV schedules fund the quality of games we watch each week, but have the SKY people no heart at all? And that’s before you factor in the staff at these clubs – and the TV crews – having to work, and the difficulty of getting to the match with public transport winding down for the holidays. (Yes, they manage to do it.) And don’t the players have families, too?

We are with the supporters of both clubs.

Aston Villa – Aston Villa Supporters Trust

AVST (Aston Villa Supporters Trust) stand united with the FSA and other Supporters groups in condemning the Premier league’s decision to move the Wolves v Chelsea game to the Christmas Eve.

The AVST see the Premier League, and the broadcasters, as irresponsible and unsympathetic to the match going supporters.

The whole decision-making process needs a complete re-think, the constant late announcements of televised games, the total disregard of the impacts on travel to supporters attending games due to scheduling amendments

The festive fixtures are sacrosanct in the English game and the scheduling of this Christmas eve fixture goes against all principles for the match going supporters.
The supporters are never considered during these times when the broadcasters select their TV games and this is another demonstration that supporters are the furthest from their minds.

Brentford – Bees United

While we at Bees United acknowledge the benefits that football receives from the revenue generated from broadcasting deals, we also believe that much of the interest in our game domestically and internationally derives from the atmosphere that is generated at grounds as a result of fans turning up regularly in their thousands to support their teams.

While we acknowledge and understand that there is a wish by broadcasters to have a varied schedule of matches we feel strongly that this needs to be proportionate to the disruption caused to those fans who attend games in person.

The recent decision to schedule a game on Christmas Eve we consider is a step too far as regards the balance between match day going fans and broadcasters and we wish to express our strong view that this decision – and indeed any decisions as regards scheduling of games that might lead to a similar choice of date and time – should not be repeated.

Brentford – Brentford Independent Supporters Association

Brentford Independent Supporters Association are opposed to the decision by the Premier League and TV Broadcasters to the scheduling of a televised fixture on Christmas Eve between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea and totally supports the objections raised by the FSA and other supporter groups. This totally ignores the interests of numerous stakeholder groups including fans.

Christmas Eve is a traditional time for family gatherings, last-minute festive preparations, and travel from afar to be with loved ones and friends. In addition, all those who work in Football -players and club staff, as well as the necessary supporting public services, and the fans, are entitled to enjoy this moment of festive celebration.

Transport services for both Home and Away supporters are limited on Christmas Eve. The constant refrain that “Football is nothing without the fans” seems increasingly to be a meaningless and hollow phrase as far as TV Broadcasters are concerned. The decision to play this game on December 24th should therefore be reversed and re-scheduled.

Brighton and Hove Albion – Fan Advisory Board

As fans of Brighton we were pleased that our Boxing Day game was moved. Whilst Christmas fixtures are an enjoyable and traditional feature of the fixture calendar, travel and family commitments often make these games difficult to attend.

Like many fans we were disappointed to hear of the Xmas eve fixture had been reintroduced after 28 years. A fixture nobody has asked for or had little interest in watching or attending. The lack of engagement with fans and supporter associations is further disappointing and shows a lack of thought for fans, home and away attending matches, especially with Xmas eve falling on a Sunday this year.

Burnley – Burnley FC Supporters Groups

Burnley FC Supporters Groups consider the decision to move the Wolves v Chelsea game to a Christmas Eve date as a hugely disappointing one.

Football supporters have so much inconvenience to deal with over a season with fixtures moved to dates and times which makes travel arrangements difficult but to schedule a fixture on Christmas Eve, when families are coming together is one that is very difficult to accept.

There aren’t many dates in the calendar that would bring such a negative reaction from supporters but Christmas Eve is one of those dates. It is not a football day. We look back at our club’s fixtures in the past. Burnley have not played a game on Christmas Eve since 1955 and Turf Moor hasn’t hosted a fixture on 24th December since 1938. That shows how important it is not to play games on this date.

This move from the Premier League and the broadcasters is totally unacceptable. Our own club has now been hit with a ridiculous re-scheduling of a game in January that could now be played on any of three different dates with little notice as to which of the three, but our thoughts are very much with the supporters of Wolves and Chelsea. The loyalty to their clubs is now being pushed to a limit that is just so wrong.

Chelsea – Chelsea Supporters’ Trust

It is totally unacceptable that Wolves v Chelsea has been scheduled for Christmas Eve.

Since rumours began to circulate on this issue, the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust has been clear that selecting this kick-off time will place another hurdle in the way of many match-going supporters. Not only could this lead to staffing issues at Molineux, but holiday transport timetables will further inconvenience supporters.

On Tuesday 24th October, we requested an urgent meeting with the relevant decision-makers within the Premier League, we expect that this meeting will be held very soon, alongside the Wolves 1877 Trust, and the Football Supporters’ Association.

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust will formally request that the Premier League properly consult supporters on this issue and that they reverse this decision.

We will provide a further update to CST members in due course.

Chelsea – Chelsea Supporters Club/Chelsea Supporters Group

(The following is a joint statement issued by Chelsea Supporters Club (CSC) and Chelsea Supporters Group (CSG)

The announcement and confirmation that Chelsea’s Premier League fixture versus Wolverhampton Wanderers will now take place on Christmas Eve is disappointing and frustrating in equal measure.

It once again demonstrates that the concerns of match-going supporters – who were not consulted about this decision – are considered secondary to those of a global football audience but, beyond that, it also reflects a complete lack of awareness and concern for thousands of matchday staff and personnel who will now be required to work on a day where many families celebrate during the festive season.

The Premier League will not be alone in arranging fixtures on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, both within football and in other sports. The wider issue here is that the arrangement has been confirmed just 60 days before the event which, to say nothing of enforcing late changes of circumstance on a great many people, also poses significant travel problems for those affected.

Many transport operators offer a scaled-down or skeleton timetable over the Christmas period, including early timetable finishes on Christmas Eve, and indeed there are currently just two direct services from Wolverhampton to London available after this fixture.

The cost of living crisis continues to affect us all, and increasing the demands on loyal fans from both Wolves and Chelsea at a time of year that provides additional challenges is and should have been avoidable. The Premier League has not held a fixture on this date for 28 years; why does it need to do so now?

We will continue to discuss these matters with Chelsea and the Premier League in hope of striking a better balance moving forward.

Crystal Palace – Crystal Palace Independent Supporters Association

The decision to go ahead with the Christmas Eve fixture is very disappointing and thoughtless in respect of the staff and supporters of the clubs concerned. It has also had a knock-on effect for the timing of other fixtures – e.g. Palace’s match against Chelsea has been put back a day. As has been mentioned the transport situation on Christmas Eve is reduced, and it is also a time for last-minute shopping, present wrapping, travelling to spend time with family/friends, celebrating with family friends, and indeed some people actually celebrate on Christmas Eve more so than Christmas Day. Mention has been made of those who for various reasons are homebound, but broadcasting a match on Christmas Eve is not necessarily something to be expected and broadcasters have the scope to show a Christmas film or re-show some sporting event programme or perhaps even create a new programme for the slot. Hopefully, the FSA will take the PL to task for this decision and perhaps question their responsibilities to clubs and supporters and resilience in the face of demands from broadcasters.

Everton – Everton Fan Advisory Board

We stand in solidarity with our fellow supporter groups across the country, following the recent decisions taken by the Premier League and TV broadcasters to reschedule fixtures over the Christmas period.

Our own fixture against Manchester City has been moved to 8.15pm on 27 December, resulting in major implications for both sets of supporters, and for the first time in nearly 30 years, a match will be played on Christmas Eve – with seemingly no thought for the supporters of Wolves or Chelsea.

These decisions have been taken without any consideration for, or consultation with, match-going fans and is the latest example of broadcasters and the Premier League putting their own interests first, and fans’ last.

With no obvious signs that this trend is going to change, it’s now time that dialogue between broadcasters, clubs and supporters becomes an obligation when considering any fixture change – and that this becomes a feature of any future broadcasting deal.

Fulham – Fulham Supporters Trust

The Board of the Fulham Supporters’ Trust are against fixtures on Christmas Eve for the following reasons:-

  • There has been no consultation with supporters groups;
  • Plans will already have been made for people to spend time with family and friends, some travelling long distances;
  • With no Christmas Eve fixtures for a number of years, it is not something fans will be expecting;
  • Christmas Eve is one of the busiest days of the year for families, and adding a football match to the preparations is ridiculous;
  • Public Transport generally starts to wind down through Christmas Eve afternoon making travelling, particularly for away supporters, difficult;
  • For a number of people, Christmas Eve can be the main day of celebrations;
  • Club employees, stewards, catering staff and others will have their Christmas disrupted. Those on minimum wage/zero hours contracts might well refuse to work;

Back to top…

Liverpool – Spirit of Shankly

Why does Sky Sports want to steal Christmas?

No-one should need reminding what Christmas is all about. No-one, it seems apart from out-of-touch TV executives, who only see the product and don’t see the people.

Spirit of Shankly opposes Premier League football on Christmas Eve and we strongly condemn the decision, driven by Sky Sports, to reschedule the Wolves v Chelsea fixture to this special family day.

The attempt to force football into a fixture nobody asked for stinks of arrogance and ignorance – a view further enforced by media briefings that the decision will not be reversed despite opposition from supporters across the country.

The game is nothing without us, the fans – football in the pandemic served to underline that. Once again we are told we are valued, yet once again we are being ignored.

Christmas Eve has been left alone by the decision-makers inside television for 28 years – and we call for that to continue. Common sense should prevail.

We have been here before. Six years ago Sky tried to reschedule Arsenal v Liverpool to an evening kick-off on Christmas Eve. The idea was eventually scrapped due to the backlash from fans, many of whom faced the prospect of being stranded in London if they chose to go to the game.

Now Sky are back once more, this time proposing a 1pm kick-off at Molineux on Christmas Eve.

For fans who watch on television or the casual viewer who likes any football on TV, it’s nothing more than just another game.

For loyal match-going supporters, who plan their lives around the game, it’s a move The Grinch would be proud of. Why does Sky Sports want to steal Christmas?

Christmas Eve is a day for family and friends. A day for wrapping presents. Preparing food. Making time for special ones.

But you don’t have to go, some will say. You don’t get it, we say.

It’s not just match-goers that will be affected.

Players, club and hospitality staff, public service workers, emergency workers, people who work in the media – they will all have to make themselves available and change their plans.

And why, because Sky has decided Super Sunday should rule over a traditional period of celebration?

According to English Heritage, the name Christmas (Christ’s Mass) was first recorded in England in 1038. Sky has been showing football since 1992. Which is more important?

Many supporters, again, will no doubt lose out on money already spent. Changing the day of this match means Wolves and Chelsea’s Boxing Day fixtures would move to December 27.

Boxing Day football is another English tradition. Christmas Eve football is the Scrooge-like vision of a TV company.

How many fans will have booked transport and accommodation for the 23rd and the 26th?

How many will now be out of pocket as a consequence?

How many will struggle with the logistics of travelling to a game on a day when the country winds down for the traditions of Christmas?

Sunday transport is a challenge at the best of times. But Sunday transport coupled with Christmas Eve schedules? A nightmare before Christmas.

Supporters who go to games have already been made to pay too many times due to the lack of consideration from broadcasters and the Premier League.

We join our counterparts across the country in calling for a re-think regarding the Wolves v Chelsea fixture. It’s not us this time, but next time it could be.

The Premier League is big business. We understand the global demand for televised games. But Christmas, our tradition, and the impact on families and fans should rule over just one more match on the TV.

We ask that Sky Sports and the Premier League look to the ghosts of Christmas past. Supporters don’t want Christmas Eve football. Don’t make it our Christmas future. After all, even Scrooge saw sense in the end.

Liverpool – Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association

We are incredibly disappointed that the Premier League have decided to hold a Premier League game on Christmas Eve without consulting with disabled supporters.

Public travel is already tricky for disabled supporters attending football matches, but it is much worse around Christmas. Was any consideration given to the travel needs of disabled supporters?

Christmas is also a time for families to come together.
It is a precious time of year for many families, and it is a time for them to come together.

To have this special time interrupted by this poorly thought-out scheduling of a football match is a shocking move by the Premier League and is one that lacks compassion and empathy for disabled supporters who travel all over the country in all weathers to follow their team of choice.

This decision can not go unchallenged, and those responsible must look into their souls and see a beating heart and not a beating bank balance!

Disabled football supporters matter!

Luton Town – Luton Town Supporters Trust

The Luton Town Supporters’ Trust supports the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA), Wolves 1877 Trust, Chelsea Supporters Club, Chelsea Supporters Group and Chelsea Supporters Trust in opposition to Premier League matches being played on Christmas Eve.

While we recognise the benefits that the TV deal provides our club, we do not think it should be to the detriment of match-going supporters, who make up the atmosphere that broadcasters around the world so dearly crave.

Christmas Eve is a day when families prepare to spend time over the festive period together and over the last 28 years has been one of the few days where supporters can guarantee there is no football so they can make arrangements without having to miss watching the team they love. Then there is the issue of travel on such a day, which again will impact those who follow their team around the country.

Football on Christmas Eve does not just impact fans but also club staff, public service workers and the emergency services, all of whom deserve time with their families at such a special time of the year.

While opposing matches on Christmas Eve, LTST would also like to voice our frustration at ‘conditional’ TV picks such as the one Luton Town has for our match away to Burnley in January.

Three different potential dates have been given for the game which depends on the fortunes of the two sides in the cup competitions prior to then. This could, however, mean that there is as little as four days’ notice for supporters.

This is clearly not acceptable and we urge the Premier League and the broadcasters to come together and solve this issue and select matches for dates which give match-going fans sufficient notice to ensure they are able to watch their team play.

Throughout the whole of the Covid period when football was played behind closed doors, we were constantly told that ‘football is nothing without the fans’. It is now time for those very fans to be put at the forefront of decisions regarding TV games.

Put match-going fans first.

Manchester City – Manchester City Official Supporters Club

The Manchester City Official Supporters Club (The OSC) are very disappointed by the decision to arrange a game on Christmas Eve and also the impact of the scheduling of other games over the Christmas/New Year period.

Once again fans are not taken into consideration and even worse there has been no discussions with the Supporter groups that act on their behalf.

Manchester United – Manchester United Supporters Trust

Football fans love the festive fixture list, but Christmas Eve has for a long time been a protected day without games.

Public transport is not at its best, and millions of people are travelling to be with family for Christmas.

Whilst it is Wolves and Chelsea fans this year, it could be any of us in the future. We all love football – but let’s keep Christmas Eve football-free.

Newcastle United – Newcastle United Supporters Club

Newcastle United Supporters Club are disappointed by the Premier League and broadcaster decision to host a fixture on Christmas Eve for the first time in 28 years.

We join our colleagues at The FSA and across the Premier League Network in condemning this decision. The decision has been made with little regard for the match going supporters.

Christmas Eve should be a time for the whole football family spend with their own families and enjoy the Christmas period together. There are also the added issues of reduced public transport for those attending both as fans and in a working capacity.

We urge the Premier League and broadcasting partners to start considering the impact to supporters when making these decisions. Put fans first and say no to Christmas Eve football.

Newcastle United – Newcastle United Supporters Trust

The Newcastle United Supporters Trust opposes football matches being played on Christmas Eve. There have been no football matches played on Christmas Eve for 28 years and it shouldn’t start now!

Christmas Eve is a special time for families getting together and not for football.

Christmas Eve match days affect everybody; fans, players, club staff, public service workers and emergency workers who will all have to make themselves available for the event. It is not fair on them.

It is not fair on the rest of society who will be significantly affected by the diversion of public and private resources on this already very busy day.

We also question if there is a demand for watching football either in person or on television on Christmas Eve.

We urge the Premier League and Premier League clubs to think again and put families first.

Nottingham Forest – Nottingham Forest Supporters Trust

The Nottingham Forest Supporters’ Trust strongly opposes this development. The Christmas football programme is a staple of festive celebrations across the country and television coverage is part of that. We also recognise the importance of broadcast revenue to clubs.

However, family time is important too for those who celebrate. Christmas Eve is a time when families are preparing for visitors and spending time together. Football takes a backseat and should continue to do so.

We urge all stakeholders to rethink these plans and ensure that Christmas isn’t just about football.

Sheffield United – Rainbow Blades

The introduction of Christmas Eve fixtures in the Premier League, after a 28-year absence and without any prior fan consultation, starkly underscores the expanding impact of television money on the world of football. While television broadcasting has played an increasingly significant role in the sport’s revenue streams, it is essential not to lose sight of the very supporters who make football what it is.
Rainbow Blades stands in solidarity with the other 19 Premier League clubs to highlight the significance of taking into account the fans when making scheduling decisions. Football has always been about more than just a game and the introduction of Christmas Eve fixtures can disrupt long-held family festive traditions. The footballing world needs to strike a balance between commercial interests and the interests of the supporters who are the heartbeat of the sport.
Football is more than just a business; it’s a passion and a way of life. By disregarding the fans’ opinions and traditions, we risk alienating fans and eroding the unique and vibrant culture that is essential to the sport. Moving forward, it is crucial that the footballing bodies ensure that the decisions they make are not solely motivated by financial gain but also reflect the values and identity of the beautiful game.

Tottenham Hotspur – Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST) is dismayed to see that the Wolves versus Chelsea fixture has been scheduled to be played on Christmas Eve. We stand with the Football Supporters’ Association, Wolves 1877 Trust, Chelsea Supporters Club and Chelsea Supporters Group in opposing the principle of playing Premier League matches on Christmas Eve.

Match going supporters have long been taken for granted, and are regularly expected to change their plans at short notice and accept increasingly unsociable kick-off times. The introduction of Christmas Eve football is another kick in the teeth for supporters, many of whom are finding it harder than ever to align football attendance with their social and family commitments.

For many people, Christmas Eve is a busy and important date. For some it is a key day for family celebrations; for others, it is a day for travelling and preparing for Christmas Day. It is also a day that regularly sees a reduced public transport timetable and major travel disruption. Scheduling a football match on Christmas Eve imposes a considerable burden not only on supporters but also on their families and on matchday staff. A large number of these individuals will have made their holiday plans already.

We are particularly disappointed that this highly controversial scheduling decision was made without consulting relevant supporter groups. It does not affect Spurs on this occasion, but we could be the unlucky ones next year.

West Ham United – West Ham United Supporters Trust

WHUST is against any football match being played on Christmas Eve. Apart from the potentially significant difficulties with travel, it’s a time for families to be together. Additionally, all the arrangements that are part of a football match will lead to staff that will be needed missing time with their families.

It is disappointing that the decision to hold a match on Christmas Eve has been made and fully support the FSA in their response to this.

West Ham United – Hammers United

Hammers United, representing 20,000 West Ham fans, pledges its full support to the FSA in its campaign against football being played on Christmas Eve.

Most people in the UK have their own Christmas Eve traditions and many would expect to be able to spend time with their friends and families, some attending religious services or maybe shopping for last-minute gifts, wrapping presents or travelling long distances to spend the festive period with loved ones.

But for some reason, the clubs, the Premier League and the TV companies appear to have disregarded the players, the fans, their own employees and those of the Police, Ambulance and security services, and others whose lives are dependent upon football matches being played. Instead, all of these people are going to be impacted to varying degrees by the decision taken to schedule a football match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers on Christmas Eve.

With an already creaking public transport system that will be further reduced due to… er, it being Christmas Eve, and the expected busy road network as other people make their way across the country to meet with friends and family to enjoy…er, Christmas Eve, it will be very interesting to see the ACTUAL attendance figures for this ill-timed fixture.

But while supporters of Chelsea and Wolves can vote with their feet, for those less fortunate who have no option other than to attend the match, it will be a less than ideal start to the Christmas break.

The footballing powers that be need to think about the implications of their decision to schedule this fixture, how it will impact those who cannot or will not attend, and what it means for those who have no choice but to attend. Or maybe they already did but decided to schedule the match anyway!

Whatever the case may be, we ask them all to urgently rethink their plans to play this match on Christmas Eve and we fully support the FSA for taking this up.

Wolverhampton Wanderers – Wolves 1877 Trust

Wolves 1877 Trust recognise that the club are subject to the Premier League TV deal, and that they have little say in the scheduling of fixtures. We also recognise that the club has a commitment, through Premier League rules, to consult with supporters on matters that will directly affect them. We are disappointed that the club have chosen not to use any of the channels available to them to consult with supporters.

We support the Football Supporters Association and Chelsea Supporters Trust in opposing the principle of Premier League Football matches being played on Christmas Eve, this fixture change now impacts on our Boxing Day match. We will be seeking a direct meeting with the Premier League, alongside our colleagues at Chelsea Supporters Trust and the FSA.

The Trust see the Premier League, and broadcasters, as uncaring and irresponsible in their decision making processes, repeatedly they are late with their fixture change announcements, repeatedly they have disregard for the travel impacts on supporters due to scheduling changes.
This Christmas Eve fixture is the ‘final straw’ in a long list of Premier League, and broadcaster, snubs for match going supporters.

The Trust is aware of serious rail disruption over the Christmas period, as announced by network rail, have the club consulted with the local authority to provide additional parking for Wolves, and travelling Chelsea fans, as the City Centre will be busy with Christmas shoppers?

The Trust is aware that Christmas Eve is traditionally one of the busiest days on the road in the UK and that Chelsea and ‘distanced’ Wolves supporters are now faced with a nightmare journey to, and from Molineux.

It’s an unnecessary and thoughtless decision by the Premier League, and broadcasters, to stage this match on Christmas Eve.

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