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Man City face fixture chaos leaving Pep fuming over new TV games


PEP Guardiola was left frustrated as Prem fixtures schedulers gave him just a two-day turnaround before he takes Manchester City to West Ham next month.

The first 2021 meeting of Prem club “shareholders” saw agreement that all matches up to the end of next month will be screened live on television.

The new TV fixtures have not been kind to Manchester City or Pep Guardiola

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The new TV fixtures have not been kind to Manchester City or Pep GuardiolaCredit: Getty

Prem bosses have steeled themselves for a fan-free season despite the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine.

But the unveiled fixture list sends City to the London Stadium for a 12.30am kick off on Saturday February 27 after they have travelled to meet Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on the previous Wednesday.

Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have criticised BT Sport for choosing them for their prime slot in the aftermath of Wednesday European games.

In response, the broadcaster pointed to the reality that they do not have the right to play games when they want and have to stick to the fixture slots they have paid for.

Nevertheless, Guardiola will be unhappy at the scheduling and doubtless have a watchful eye on when Liverpool play at Wolves after their home tie with Leipzig in March.

Highlights of the five-week fixtures block include the Anfield return clash between Liverpool and City, on Sunday February 7 at 4.30pm.

Three days earlier, Chelsea travel to take on former boss Jose Mourinho’s Spurs, while the BBC will screen the relegation shoot-out between West Brom and Fulham next weekend with a 3pm start.

The fixtures roll-out comes as League and club chiefs recognised it is unlikely that fans will be allowed back through the Prem turnstiles until next season.

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And unless there is a surprise change of heart from Government and health chiefs, that will mean the entire second half of the campaign being available for fans to watch “live” from home.

Tottenham and Manchester United are the hardest hit by the continued shut-out, losing around £6m in income for each home game played behind closed doors.

But while crowds of up to 2,000 were allowed for a few weeks in December, the subsequent clampdown in the face of the mutant strains of the virus saw the gates shut once again.

Football has worked with the Government’s Sports Technology and Innovation Group, headed by Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross, on potential solutions that would let the fans back in.

Covid passports are a genuine possibility, although it is expected that limited numbers will be allowed in the initial stages, with social distancing requirements still in place.

A Prem statement said: “The Premier League and its clubs are committed to an accessible solution for fans.

“These plans have been made with the cooperation of our broadcast partners, working with us to deliver these additional matches while stadiums are missing the supporters who are such an integral part of the game.”

Club bosses also confirmed the League will allow managers to have two permanent concussion substitutes as part of the official Fifa trial, although some reporting issues need to be resolved with Fifa before the new Law is introduced.

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