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Saints should not lose out over fixture farce
Saints should not lose out financially, despite having this month’s home match against Chelsea rearranged and taken off television.
The club have criticised the decision to reschedule the game in order to help resolve the fixture chaos enveloping the FA Cup.
Saints had been due to face the Blues, at St Mary’s, on Sunday, March 31, with Sky broadcasting the game live.
However, they will now have to play the match a day earlier, after the Premier League approved changing it back to its original date.
That is to allow the FA Cup quarter-final replay between Chelsea and Manchester United to take place on Monday, April 1.
There had been concern about when that match would take place, as there was no obvious slot in the calendar for it.
However, it has now been shoehorned in on Easter Monday, resulting in disruption for Saints.
With the visit of Rafa Benitez’s team now taking place on Saturday, March 30, at 3pm, the game will no longer be televised.
That is not likely to impact the club financially in the long run, however.
Saints had been due to receive a facility fee for the match – a sum, worth roughly £500,000, paid to each club that features in a game that is broadcast live on TV.
They will indeed no longer be given this for the Chelsea fixture.
However, each Premier League club must receive at least ten of these payments per season, irrespective of how many times they are actually shown on television.
Saints have so far had seven of their league matches broadcast live this term.
Chelsea was due to be number eight, with the trip to Reading next month set to be the ninth.
All the broadcast schedules have already been confirmed up to the end of April, leaving only Saints’ final three matches that could also have been selected for TV coverage.
Although not impossible, it is unlikely that Saints would have appeared on TV more than ten times this season, even if the Chelsea game had been shown.
Should they only receive one more televised fixture beyond the Reading game, or indeed none, they will still be paid the full ten facility fees.
Saints made it clear they were unhappy with the disruption, though.
“The game had already been moved once for the purposes of live Sky TV coverage – to Sunday 31st March – however, the Premier League have deemed it acceptable to move the fixture once more,” the club said in a statement on their website.
They added: “The club is extremely disappointed that this decision has been taken; not least because of the significant inconvenience a second change to the fixture will cause our supporters.”