Why The Premier League's Final Games Will All Start at the Same Time on Sunday

Why The Premier League's Final Games Will All Start at the Same Time on Sunday

Martin Moses
updated at May 19, 2024 at 8:59 AM
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  • Arsenal and Manchester City will battle it out for the league title on game week 38
  • The May 19 fixtures will all start at the same time as has been the norm on finals day
  • Sports Brief explains why the rule exists and why the games are played on Sunday only

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Arsenal's victory over Manchester United on May 12 meant the 2023/2024 Premier League title would be decided on the final day.

The win means that defending champions, Manchester City, have not won the title despite beating Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday.

However, Pep Guardiola's side have still put themselves in a prime position ahead of the final day, currently leading the table.

Pep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta, Manchester City, Arsenal, black-out rule
One of Pep Guardiola's Manchester City or Mikel Arteta's Arsenal will win the 2023/2024 Premier League title on May 19, 2024. Photo by Oli Scarff.
Source: Getty Images

Manchester City will host West Ham United, while Arsenal play Everton at the Emirates Stadium in the final round on May 19. The former are chasing a fourth consecutive title, which would be historic in English football.

As it is in other major leagues and the final group games of major tournaments, Premier League games on the final day often start at the same time.

Looking at the 'Disgrace of Gijon' example

The rule at the World Cup level was introduced after the 1982 tournament in Spain between West Germany and Austria. The infamous game, which came to be known as the Disgrace of Gijon, saw the two teams play out a passive match, as reported by the Athletic.

At that time, the final group games weren't played simultaneously, and thus, both sides knew before the game that a 1-0 win in favour of West Germany would be enough for both of them to qualify for the knockout rounds at Algeria's expense.

Horst Hrubesch scored the game's only goal in the 11th minute, and afterwards, the game ended as a contest and became more of a training session.

Why Premier League final games start at the same time

To avert such a crisis, or match-fixing for lack of a better word, all final games were after that played at the same time. The main reason for this was to prevent a team from getting an undue advantage over their rival who played earlier.

If a rival plays earlier, a team will head into its final game knowing all the permutations and results they need to win the title or progress to the knockout stages.

This, in turn, added to the drama, with all contenders putting their best foot forward until the final whistle. On the final day of the 2021/2022 season, Manchester City needed to match Liverpool's result to retain the title but found themselves trailing 2-0.

Liverpool, meanwhile, were winning at Wolverhampton when Mohamed Salah famously asked a fan what the score was at the Etihad Stadium. Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to spark a turnaround and break the Reds' hearts.

Black-out rule explained: Why games are played on Sunday

Additionally, the final games of the Premier League are played on Sunday of that weekend and not Saturday due to the 'Black-out law' as captured in UEFA Statutes in Article 48, which states that:

"Each member association may decide on two and a half hours on a Saturday or a Sunday during which any Transmission of football may be prohibited within the territory of the relevant member association."

For the Premier League, the black-out law applies on Saturday, when any game played between 2:45pm and 5:15pm (UK Time) is not shown on live TV.

The reasoning behind this law is to encourage fans to watch Championship fixtures and other leagues which are slated at that time. In 1960, Burnley chairman, Bob Lord, convinced other chairpersons that televising league games on Saturday would negatively impact attendance of lower league games.

Therefore, the agreed TV rights do not allow Saturday matches to be shown at 4pm, which pushes the final day fixtures to Saturday at the same time.

The black-out rule has drawn heavy criticism in recent years but can only be reviewed in 2029 once the current agreement expires, as captured on the Premier league website.

Guardiola reacts to Son's missed chance

Sports Brief also recently reported on Tottenham's Son Heung-min missing a golden chance to score against Man City on Tuesday, May 14.

The Spurs forward was one-on-one with Stefan Ortega in the Citizens' goal but the South Korean star some failed to convert the chance.

Authors
Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)
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Mikel ArtetaPep Guardiola