Sunday 25 June 2017

Premier League explain why Manchester City will face Stoke on a Champions League night

Man City boss Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA
Man City boss Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA

The Premier League has defended its position over the clash of Manchester City's rearranged Premier League match against Stoke and Wednesday night's Champions League games.

It had been agreed there should be no domestic matches starting at the same time as any European ties, and that they should also finish at least half an hour before matches in either the Champions League or Europa League begin.

However, City will take on Stoke at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, kicking off at 8pm - just 15 minutes after the second-leg games begin between Barcelona and Paris St Germain and Borussia Dortmund and Benfica.

There have been precedents where UEFA has issued sanctions in terms of heavy fines, although it is understood that would be levied against the national association - the Football Association in England's case - rather than a specific club or league.

The Premier League, though, stresses the availability of suitable dates is becoming more and more limited.

"The Premier League does not seek to arrange matches on the same dates as UEFA but the challenges of the fixture list occasionally make it unavoidable," a spokesman said.

"UEFA itself has exacerbated the fixture challenges that English football faces, taking more Champions League and Europa League dates over the years while our competitions have remained the same."

Europe's governing body, meanwhile, will keep a close eye on the issues raised.

"We don't comment on specific matches and UEFA reviews potential calendar clashes at the end of the season," a UEFA spokesman said in a statement.

"During the course of a season, we make sure that we are in close dialogue with the respective leagues and national associations."

Manchester City's game against Stoke was moved after Pep Guardiola's men progressed to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup by beating Huddersfield 5-1 in a replay last week.

Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes felt for the inconvenience imposed on their travelling fans.

"We were in consultation with the Premier League and Manchester City for some weeks over the dates for this fixture. It does get difficult because of the slots available not being many," Scholes said in the Stoke Sentinel.

"The Premier League has to avoid, when it can, Champions League dates in midweeks and it has to avoid certain other commitments. Man City also had another game that needed rearranging.

"The only disappointment is that supporters don't have much time to make their plans, but I'm afraid it is unavoidable in this situation."

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