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'I think we’ve gone past saturation point' | Tim Vickery on football's calendar crisis

Ryan Clarke
Ryan Clarke

21:16 4 Sep 2019

“Less is more.” That is the message from Tim Vickery as he suggests football has reached a saturation point.

Speaking to Off The Ball’s Football Show, the journalist made the point that the spectacle on the pitch could improve if there was less football being played. 

Making the comparison of how often other elite athletes perform at their peak level he posed the question:

“Usain Bolt used to run 100 metres but how many times a year would he do that to the best of his ability?”

“Too many demands are being made of footballers and I remember a few years ago hearing a lecture from Arrigo Sacchi saying, ‘maybe we’re reaching a point where we’ve given in too much for the money,” Vickery said.

Just 24 days after Liverpool became European Champions for the sixth time, in Kosovo the next instalment of the Champions League was kicking off.

That remarkable tournament is just one example of the seemingly perpetual football season. Where the end of one season hazily blurs into the beginning of another, as the hamster wheel of the football calendar continues marching on.

It is no surprise that players routinely break down with soft tissue injuries when extended periods rest are no further and further apart.

“Some of these players should start accepting being paid less in order to play less, but the calendar is out of their control,” Vickery explained.

“The players who play for South American clubs are frequently expected, especially the Brazilians where the calendar is insane, to play for their national teams on Tuesday and their club on Wednesday.

“Sometimes on the other side of the Atlantic,” he said.

For this reason, Vickery is not surprised to see the struggles of Alexis Sanchez at Manchester United. Since 2015, Sanchez has had just one summer off when Chile failed to qualify for the 2018 Russia World Cup.

With any substantial change to the amount of football being played, Tim Vickery he reckons that players will have to start “picking and choosing when they give it full whack.”

“Imagine if we got a ‘European Super League’ where you get the games of giants all the time?” he pondered.

“It’s just more and more physical demands and I think we’ve gone past saturation point. The remark by Arrigo Sacchi is really stuck in my mind.”

“We’ve given in too much to money and the spectacle would improve if there was a little bit less money and laying involved,” he concluded.

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