Aitor Elizegi Speaks Out About Recent Scheduling Of Athletic Matches
La Liga’s match scheduling continues to be a point of contention for Athletic. Over the past few years the Basque giants played more games on Monday and Friday nights than any other club and there was hope that things would finally be better once changes were introduced. This season games are not being played on Mondays and each club can only be scheduled for a specific number of matches on Fridays, but new issues have arose.
By getting rid of Monday night games La Liga introduced a new time slot at 2:00pm on Sundays to replace the fixture. While this is certainly better than the alternative, it’s still widely viewed as the worst time for a game during the weekend. Unfortunately, Athletic are currently in the middle of a run that will see the Lions play five straight games at 2:00pm on Sundays and the club isn’t happy about it.
“It’s quite unfair,” manager Gaizka Garitano said ahead of last weekend’s match. “There are five games in a row at the worst time and I don’t see this as normal. You have to accept it, but it should be better distributed. It’s the worst time for fans, who have to eat, and the worst time for a game. Five weeks in a row doesn’t make any sense. One match, maybe two or three, but five.”
Garitano wasn’t done there. When asked about the situation a second time the Mister once again made his opinion clear on the matter and is clearly frustrated by the lack of equality in scheduling.
“They make the schedules. It hurts us because it goes against the interests of the fans who come to San Mamés. We have to accept it, but it’s something that goes against Athletic. Sure, it disrupts our work plan but more importantly it hurts the fans who want to go to San Mamés. It’s the worst time and totally unfair. This has never happened before. It hurts us, it’s not good for anyone.”
Since then, Athletic President Aitor Elizegi joined Radio Euskadi for an interview and was also asked about the scheduling issue. “These are the rules,” he said in frustration. “It’s clear that Athletic is the most attractive team in this open schedule. It’s something very negative for the city, for both the athletes and the fans who have to make a great effort to attend. I agree with Gaizka. It’s something that goes against Athletic.”
It’s unclear whether or not the club has submitted an official complaint to the La Liga offices, but it’s very likely to happen if it hasn’t already. Athletic and the players have been very outspoken about their frustrations and are now waiting to learn when their next game, a Basque Derby against Eibar at San Mamés, will be scheduled. This issue aside, Elizegi is proud of the work his Board has done since winning the election in December. “I really think the club is a little better than when we found it ten months ago,” he said at the end of the interview.