The Premier League has confirmed that no fixtures will take place on Christmas Eve following lengthy discussions with clubs, fan groups and broadcasters Sky and BT.
The news comes as a major victory for supporters who resisted any changes for broadcasters to dictate kick-off times over the festive period, as none of the games scheduled for 23 December were moved to cater for live television coverage.
It had been reported that Sky Sports wanted to broadcast Arsenal’s clash with Liverpool on December 24 at 4pm. But following major backlash from both clubs as to the feasibility of fans and staff to return home, the game has now been moved to Friday December 22, with the kick-off scheduled for 7:45pm.
Three other Premier League clashes have been moved from the 3pm slot on Christmas Eve, which includes Everton v Chelsea, Burnley v Tottenham and Leicester v Manchester United.
Chelsea’s clash at Goodison Park is now scheduled for a 12:30 kick-off, whilst the other two games receive the Saturday evening slot with Burnley kicking off at 5:30pm and Leicester at 7:45pm.
Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore praised the ‘flexibility’ of the UK broadcasters in their decision not to televise fixtures on December 24, despite it being in their contractual rights to do so.
He said: “We appreciate this is the peak time for supporters attending and watching the Premier League.
“With matches scheduled on Christmas weekend for the first time in 11 years, the process of selecting games for live broadcast has been a more complex one than usual and I would like to thank our broadcast partners and clubs for their co-operation and flexibility.
“When selecting matches, the broadcasters are using the rights that we the Premier League and the clubs have sold them, and they should therefore not be criticised for doing so.”
The ruling ensures the clash between Leeds and Manchester United in 1995 remains the last Premier League game to take place on Christmas Eve.