West Bromwich Albion have made an official complaint to the Premier League about the fixture scheduling that gives West Ham United five days' extra rest before Tuesday's meeting between the two clubs and also submitted medical evidence to support their case that playing twice in the space of 48 hours severely increases the risk of players picking up injuries.
It is a measure of how strongly Albion feel about the matter that on top of putting their grievances in writing on more than one occasion, John Williams, the club's chairman, contacted Richard Scudamore, the executive chairman of the Premier League, to let it be known just how unhappy they are with the way the fixture list has been organised over the festive period. It is understood that Albion wanted the West Ham game postponed and rescheduled.
Although plenty of managers have complained about the Premier League staggering so many matches across different days during the festive period, giving some clubs more time to prepare than others, Albion have a particularly strong argument when it comes to their fixture at the Olympic Stadium. West Ham have not played since Boxing Day because their game against Tottenham Hotspur, which was originally scheduled for New Year’s Eve, had to be moved toJanuary 4th because of safety concerns. Albion, in contrast, hosted Arsenal on Sunday, putting them at a distinct disadvantage for a crucial relegation battle.
Alan Pardew described the scheduling as "terrible" and the Albion manager added: "We all know there's pressure on TV companies for ratings and everything else and games – I understand that. But the league's got to be stronger and say two days is not right."
Pardew went on to say the club had made “strong” representations to the Premier League about the fixture list and insisted he would be forced into changes for the West Ham match. “Of course I am. There’s some players who won’t be able to cope with that [two games in 48 hours],” he said. “I’d be putting them at risk.”
It appears that the Premier League have ended up upsetting just about everyone with the fixture schedule, with West Ham also far from impressed that they have to play Spurs only 48 hours after facing Albion. With that in mind, David Moyes warned the combination of relegation fears and a draining run of fixtures this week will damage their chances of winning their FA Cup tie at Shrewsbury Town on Sunday.
West Ham dropped back into the bottom three thanks to Bournemouth’s victory against Everton on Saturday and Moyes said the fixture overload could have a negative impact on their third-round tie against Shrewsbury, who are second in League One. Moyes is unhappy with the balance and depth of his squad – the manager is desperate for reinforcements in defence and midfield this month – and his decision to play a weakened side in last month’s Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat by Arsenal demonstrated that he will not compromise West Ham’s survival hopes.
He said: “It is going to have a big damage on the FA Cup for us, to have two games in three days and then have to play another three days later in the FA Cup. That’s where it’s taking its toll and the Premier League is eating into dates where the Cup games might be getting used.
“I can imagine the questions when we get there [SHREWSBURY]and I’m going to be coming in with my tongue hanging out, and the players as well. That will be difficult and we will be needing to use the group. Do I want to win the FA Cup? 100%. But I don’t think it can be where we can damage our league form.”