Garry Monk has vowed that Leeds United’s promotion bid will not be affected by further TV disruption – despite concern that his team are becoming “the most moved in the country” due to a plethora of television alterations.
Monk has become the latest Yorkshire manager to voice his criticism at Championship clubs regularly being at the whim of fixture changes due to the demands of TV and believes that Leeds are suffering more than most.
United face their second televised game in four days against Derby County in a crunch play-off encounter at Elland Road tomorrow evening, which will be screened live on Sky Sports.
Despite the decision of Sky to bring forward the game with the Rams, BT Sports still elected to rearrange United’s FA Cup third-round tie at Cambridge United from 3pm last Saturday to Monday night – the latest example of TV companies disrupting a Leeds fixture at relatively short notice.
The upshot is that Derby, currently one place outside of the play-off positions, have the benefit of two extra days rest than their fifth-placed opponents ahead of tomorrow’s game – when an away win would cut the gap between the pair to just two points.
Heading into the business end of the season in the spring, there is little realistic likelihood of there being any let-up in the alterations of United’s fixture schedule due to TV coverage.
The initial selections for the next batch of live EFL games to be screened on Sky Sports in March will be announced later today at 3pm – and are widely expected to affect some further Leeds games.
Head coach Monk. whose side have taken the field on just two occasions at the traditional Saturday kick-off time of 3pm since November 5, said: “Going forward, we have been made aware of a few fixtures that are going to be moved again. I think we have to be the most moved team in the country.
“I understand that it makes money for companies and that Leeds are a big attraction outside the Premier League, but it’s to our detriment in terms of recovery and congestion in the fixtures.
“It is not an excuse. We will meet it head on and we will do what we have to do, but I do not think it is very fair the amount of times we have been moved.
“Other teams who are in or around us or in this league are not getting moved anywhere near what we are. But it is what it is and we have to deal with it.”
The situation has some echoes of last year, when Leeds co-owner Massimo Cellino had a running dispute with Sky TV and the Football League at the amount of TV changes to the club’s fixtures.
On one occasion, the United supremo famously threatened to impose a television blackout on the broadcaster ahead of the club’s last home game with Derby in December 2015 before eventually relenting at the 11th hour.
Monk’s comments echo previous concerns of White Rose managers, who have criticised the changes to the Championship fixture schedule at the behest of TV, most notably Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal and former Hull City manager Steve Bruce.
Back in October, Carvalhal expressed anger that the Owls had two less days to recover than opponents Cardiff City for their game in Wales on October 19 – having been in action just two days earlier in a televised fixture at Huddersfield Town.
With Wednesday, Town and Leeds all currently in the top six, further disruption for some – if not all – of the trio could potentially impact upon them at a key juncture of the season.
United’s derby trip to the John Smith’s Stadium to face Town is another fixture pencilled in for coverage on Sunday, February 5, with the game having already been rescheduled on three occasions.
Monk, for his part, has admirably stressed that he will not use any additional fixture changes as a potential excuse for any result and conversely plans to use any fresh disruption as a motivational tool to his side.
Monk, sweating over the fitness of Liam Cooper with influential regular centre-back Pontus Jansson suspended for United’s game tomorrow evening and the derby trip to Barnsley on Saturday week, added: “We will use it as motivation to come through it.
“Because of the tight turnaround all the players are on a second day of recovery. We did a little bit of tactical work, but it has been very minimal. (Today) is when we will get a gauge on the group and who is ready.”
Andrea Radrizzani, who acquired a 50 per cent stake in the club last week, has been appointed to United’s board, with his announcement confirmed by Companies House.
Meanwhile, two representatives from Radrizzani’s Aser Group Holding company in lawyer Feng Ze Yeh and Andre Tegner, Aser’s head of investments and strategies, have also joined the board.
Cellino’s son Edoardo and Giampaolo Caboni – appointed by Eleonora Sport Limited after Cellino was banned by the Football League in January 2015 – have both resigned.