Burnley fans travelling to the club’s away fixture against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend face a logistical headache with no public transport arriving in time for the rearranged kick-off time of 12pm.
The match was originally scheduled to start at 2pm but was moved after being selected for broadcast on BT Sport. Supporters were only told of the change on 12 April.
The earliest trains from Burnley on Sunday 15 May do not reach the capital until half an hour into the game, meaning fans would not have been able to reach the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium until well into the second half. Those making the trip from the north-west will have to drive the 460-mile, eight-hour round trip themselves or travel down the night before and pay for accommodation.
It has left Burnley supporters furious at what they say is a disregard for match-going fans. Tony Scholes of the Burnley FC Supporters Group told i: “It’s an important game for Burnley yet the Premier League have made it as difficult as possible for our Burnley based supporters to attend due to the very early kick-off time on a Sunday.
“This is not the first time we’ve been hit this season; our game at Arsenal in January was put back a day at just 17 days notice, with many having already booked rail tickets that were then of no use.
“Does the Premier League actually care about match-attending supporters? There is little evidence that they do. They seem unable to keep to their own promised dates for releasing fixture changes for television.
“Obviously it’s not just Burnley and recently both Manchester City and Brentford supporters have been hit with kick-off time changes only twelve days before the games.”
The early kick-off time has also angered Antonio Conte, who in response to Mikel Arteta’s complaints about the refereeing in the north London derby said: “If we want to complain I can also ask why we have to play again on Sunday at 12 o’clock and Arsenal do not play until Monday night and have one more day’s rest.”
Son Heung-min hit out the scheduling too after scoring one of Spurs’ three goals against the Gunners on Thursday night, saying it was “madness” to be playing on Sunday.
“We are playing Thursday night and Sunday with a really early kick-off,” Son told the Evening Standard. “It is a really quick turnaround, we need to do everything to recover: good food, good sleep and get ready to go again.”
The last time the two clubs played in February, Burnley won 1-0 in a match rearranged because of heavy snow. After that defeat, Conte had said he could not “continue this way”, which was widely interpreted as a threat to leave Spurs just three months after his appointment.
However, speaking ahead of Sunday’s match, he insisted “a lot of things have changed” since then.
“I’m a person, an honest person and I don’t like to tell lies and if I have to go strong, then I go strong,” he said.
“I have to do it completely. I knew this could be positive for the team, for the environment, for the players, for the club. I’m a person who likes to put across my message for every situation, positive or negative.”
While Spurs could name an unchanged team with Davinson Sanchez continuing in defence in place of the injured Cristian Romero, Burnley are likely to field an under-strength side due to a defensive crisis.
Ben Mee is out and he could be joined by James Tarkowski too, leaving the Clarets’ caretaker boss Mike Jackson with the prospect of fielding Kevin Long, who has made just one league start this season, and 21-year-old Nathan Collins.
Burnley are 17th going into Sunday’s Premier League fixtures, level on points (34) with 18th-placed Leeds and only kept out of the relegation zone by their better goal difference, though they also have a game in hand.
i has contacted the Premier League for comment.