Fixture pile-up a disgrace, says Sunderland boss Big Sam
Sam Allardyce has launched an extraordinary attack on the Premier League and challenged its chief executive, Richard Scudamore, to have the bravery to call him over Sunderland's fixture congestion.
Allardyce's relegation-threatened side face three gruelling away trips in a week - at Arsenal in the FA Cup on Saturday, Swansea City and then Tottenham Hotspur.
The Sunderland manager has already admitted the trio of games means he will have no choice but to play a weakened team at the Emirates on Saturday, further undermining the FA Cup
And he extended the debate by suggesting the decision to move back Sunderland's game at Swansea, originally next Tuesday, was to appease overseas television companies.
The rescheduling has helped the Welsh side, who travel to Oxford in the FA Cup on Sunday, avoid a similar situation to the one Sunderland now find themselves in.
Allardyce's side must travel to Wales on Wednesday next week, then face Spurs away in the early Saturday kick-off.
"Look at the circumstances. Richard Scudamore has my number, he can ring me up any time he wants, but he won't," fumed Allardyce, who revealed he had complained to the Premier League but said they had dismissed the appeal out of hand.
"They've described it as frivolous because Mr Scudamore and the board don't look at the facts properly.
"They have said that we've requested a change, which we have in the past, but not in these circumstances and if they'd examined the circumstances we've got, they'll have seen that we've got three very difficult away games in a short period of time.
"Don't put the fixture there in the first place.
"They dismissed the appeal and said, 'No, we're not going to change it', which is totally and utterly wrong by Mr Scudamore.
"They came up with telling the fans that they'll get their expenses back.
"I'm more concerned with the fans who have booked their travel up and spent all their money; will they get all of that back or won't they?
"Our circumstances are far greater and far worse than Swansea's.
"We have to play all three games away to begin with. It's around 2,000 miles of travel, we now have to play Tottenham at 12.30pm, having played Wednesday night at Swansea, so that's less than three days' recovery.
"It's the Premier League who made the decision.
"It's making it harder for me to get more points in the Premier League by making me play Wednesday and Saturday rather than Tuesday and Saturday."
Over the reasons for the Premier League's decision, Allardyce said: "It would be very, very sad if they had done it for that reason (overseas media rights), because we get enough money as it is.
"How much more money do we need? Football's a game to be enjoyed, not a game to be destroyed - and we destroy the game by asking the players to do too much in this period. It's a fact.
"The game gets ever-quicker and you get more and more injuries in this period and everybody at that level (Premier League) just ignores it.
"If it's for the money, fair enough, but you can only tell it as it is.
"If you want us to respect the FA Cup, then you don't put a Premier League fixture there, do you?
"So don't be giving me stick when I change the side, when the Premier League have given us a fixture in midweek.
"Give the Premier League stick, not the managers.
"Will I make changes for the Arsenal game? Of course I will make changes.
"If the Premier League decides to put a stupid fixture midweek when they don't need to, then I haven't got much choice.
"We've just played six games in 24 days. We're flogging the lads, but it's completely ignored by the Premier League. It's just diabolical."