Scott Parker has branded the Premier League’s decision to announce on Monday morning that Fulham’s game against Tottenham would be rearranged for Wednesday as “scandalous”.
The Fulham boss said the possibility of playing Spurs, after their original opponents Aston Villa had a coronavirus outbreak, was raised at the weekend but that the final decision was not relayed to the west London club until Monday morning.
“I’m normally always the last one to moan or whine about anything because I realise it’s tough out there and this is the way it is, but what’s happened to us (is unfair),” Parker said.
“To confirm a Premier League game as well – this is the Premier League, one of the best leagues in the world – to confirm that at 9.30 on Monday morning is scandalous really, to be honest with you.
“It’s not about the fixture. The fixture is fine. I accept that we have to play. But it’s the notice.
“Maybe people in these places don’t understand how you manage teams and how you manage players but you’re constantly working out well in advance, and the decisions that I would have made or we would have made (were affected) – whether that’s against QPR or players that are just coming back.”
Fulham were due to play Spurs on December 30, but the Cottagers’ squad had returned a number of positive Covid-19 tests and the game was called off less than three hours before kick-off.
“By the way, we’ve had it tough in terms of Covid,” Parker said.
“We’ve not been out there (announcing) our numbers publicly but we’ve had it very tough.
“And working our players over the weekend, thinking that you’ve got six or seven days until your next fixture for them to get up to speed or to work on (things), that’s quickly changed (on) Monday morning and, for me, it’s madness really.”
Parker strongly disagreed with comments made by Jose Mourinho that the biggest impact was games being postponed, and that the late notice was not unfair because of the last-minute decision to reschedule the previous match.
“Regarding being told the game is called off 48 hours before or two hours before, it’s really an irrelevance. It’s disappointment that you’ve had a game called off and I understand that.
“But to have a game called on with 48 hours’ notice is (unfair). Listen, I don’t want to get into that regarding Jose but I think he’ll know too well, that you plan structures, you plan physical elements for players.”
He added: “Tottenham knew they had this fixture in, Jose’s team selection at the weekend suggested that, he’s probably planned for the next however many games he’s got and he’s got a lot of games, granted.
“But that’s exactly how I see it. Do I see that this would happen if it was a top-of-the-table clash with two of the biggest teams and managers who are constantly here speaking? No, probably not. For me this is not acceptable.”
It is understood Fulham were first informed of the possibility of playing Spurs on Wednesday ahead of their FA Cup tie against QPR on Saturday, with Villa having only made the postponement request to the Premier League that day.
The request from Villa had to be received and signed off before Fulham could be contacted. Confirmation was only possible on Monday once all the clubs and broadcasters affected by the rescheduling had been consulted.
Fulham were signatories last September to a set of guiding principles which are contained within the league’s handbook. One of these states: “Clubs must accept changes to normal conditions and schedules in order to ensure the completion of the competition.”
In section C of the handbook it states the league can, “having given consideration to the health and safety of participating players, (require) that clubs participate in matches at more frequent intervals than initially scheduled”.
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