Football

Premier League to defend fixture backlog

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Football News
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The Premier League will defend themselves vigorously if questions are asked regarding the number of postponements at the weekend as attention turns to rescheduling matches.

After the recent cold snap across the country only two matches went ahead, Arsenal's draw with Everton and Birmingham's clash against Manchester United, but television pictures showed the surrounding areas of Upton Park being clear of snow despite West Ham's match with Wolves being scratched.

League officials will explain matches were called off after police advice and while stadiums could be declared clear on the day, that may not be the case for roads around the venues.

Clubs are now set to liaise on when to play the postponed matches, with league games the last in the order of priority after UEFA competitions, the FA Cup and the Carling Cup.

Rescheduling is also complicated by an informal agreement with UEFA not to play matches on the same evenings as Champions League or Europa League clashes, although Fulham recently travelled to Basle on the same night as four domestic top-flight fixtures.

Matches could be played on FA Cup fourth or fifth-round days between sides knocked out of the competition, and league officials also see spaces in the calendar on March 24, April 14 and May 5.

With the season finishing on May 9, and no possibility of an extension, it could lead to a thrilling final week of the Premier League season when the depths of each squad is tested in the race for the title and the battle to stay in the league.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp saw the effects of a fixture pile-up last season when he was forced to field a weakened team in the UEFA Cup as there was just a three-day gap before the Carling Cup final.

With Spurs' clash against Liverpool postponed this weekend, Redknapp said: "They are talking about playing it in two weeks and suddenly we have got five games in 14 days.

"You never know, it can work in anyone's favour if you catch it right. We have seen it many times when teams end up playing six games in 14 days suddenly and it gets difficult towards the end of the season. It makes or breaks their season so we will just have to wait and see."

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Premier League

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