Stewards set to pull plug on Christmas Eve live Sky match
Controversial plans to stage Liverpool's visit to Arsenal on Christmas Eve could be ended by stewards refusing to staff the game.
Talks are taking place between Arsenal, Islington Council, the Metropolitan Police and Liverpool over a proposal to broadcast the Premier League's first Christmas Eve match since 1995.
And, now, as well the threat of a fans' boycott, there are fears that it will not be possible to meet safety regulations.
Clubs must obtain a safety certificate from their local council for every match and, as of yesterday, it is understood that Arsenal have been unable to guarantee that sufficient numbers of stewards would be willing to work at that time.
As well as the stewarding issue, both clubs are worried about transport and how fans would return home ahead of Christmas Day, raising fears that there could be thousands of seats left empty.
However, that would not worry Sky. As part of the Premier League's £5.135 billion broadcast deal, it pays around £11 million for each of its televised games and could point out that it is only following terms of the contract for which it alone paid more than £4 billion.
Another issue is that, when clubs voted to accept the new TV deal, they would have known that this Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday.
Liverpool and Arsenal are obliged to make every effort to meet the requirements of broadcasters and clubs receive additional payments of more than £1 million for each televised game.
If the game is switched to Christmas Eve, both Arsenal and Liverpool will demand that their fixtures scheduled for St Stephen's Day day be moved to December 27 so as to avoid having to play twice in three days.
With this season ending a week earlier to accommodate the World Cup finals, all Premier League clubs are already currently scheduled to play on December 30 and again, 48 hours later, on New Year's Day.
Sky is due to announce its televised games for this period on October 16. (© Daily Telegraph, London)