Football - Festive fixtures vex Laudrup

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup has expressed his displeasure at the Christmas fixture list and claims most Barclays Premier League clubs are equally unhappy with the festive schedule.

PA Sport Report

Fixture congestion around Christmas and New Year has been a regular talking point in recent years, with several managers advocating the introduction of a winter break.

Laudrup made his comments when asked about the rescheduling of his side's Premier League fixtures due to their Europa League commitments, which continue in Russia on Thursday against Kuban Krasnodar.

All Saturday fixtures for clubs involved in Europa League games on a Thursday are moved to Sunday, so the Dane is at a loss as to why two games in three days are lined up over Christmas.

Fixtures are currently scheduled for December 26 and 28, although two games have been moved to December 29 for TV.

It is understood clubs are consulted about the fixture dates before they are announced, but Laudrup believes most teams due to play on December 28 would prefer their games to be moved back a day.

He said: "If we play on a Thursday (in the Europa League) automatically our Saturday game is transferred to a Sunday to give us three days. That is the least everyone has in all the leagues in Europe.

"But at Christmas we have to play the 26th and 28th. At least until now that stands and both games are away. That I do not understand."

When it was put to Laudrup that Christmas fixtures are part of British football tradition, he replied: "The fans can't go. They could 10-15 years ago, but now if you don't have a ticket you can't go.

"Before the whole family would have Christmas and go to a game. "Nowadays if you don't have a ticket you don't go.

"Of course we have tried to move these games. I don't understand playing on the 26th and 28th, I think the majority of the clubs disagree with that so hopefully all the teams or most can agree on this.

"I would like to move the game on the 28th to the 29th. The Boxing Day game is difficult to move."

The Premier League were unavailable for comment when contacted by Press Association Sport.

Of more pressing concern for the Dane will be the task of ensuring Swansea recover from their derby disappointment at Cardiff in Russia.

The Swans sit top of Group A despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Kuban two weeks ago, a result which allowed Valencia to move to within a point of the Welsh club.

Laudrup has previous experience of Russian football having managed Spartak Moscow for a seven-month period during the 2008-09 season.

Although the move did not work out, Laudrup does not look back on the decision to try his hand in Russia as a mistake.

"You can always talk about mistakes. We all make mistakes," he said. "It is so easy afterwards to say that here or there I did a mistake.

"But we have to think why did I make this decision at this time? Was that right? That's the question.

"It maybe is a little doubtful if I should have made that decision at that time, but I did it as the season had started and I had the possibility of going to a big club who had not won anything for six or seven years, so I looked at it as a challenge, just like I did in one of my last years as an active player when I went to Japan.

"I did it as I wanted to go to another culture where I could be a bit free after 13 years in southern Europe where people were on top of me every day.

"Maybe you could say it was a mistake to go there, but I made the choice at that moment. I thought it was right and probably I would do it again."

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