The FA have reportedly requested that no Premier League fixtures between ‘big six’ clubs be scheduled for the weekend before the World Cup starts.
Forest are preparing for their first season back in the Premier League for 23 years after beating Huddersfield Town in the Championship play-off final.
The Reds will receive their schedule for the season at 9 am on Thursday, June 16, and they could avoid a difficult winter period if Gareth Southgate’s plan is successful.
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According to ESPN, Southgate is concerned about the short time-frame between the pause in the Premier League season and the first round of World Cup fixtures in Qatar. England take on Iran in Doha on the opening day of the tournament on November 21.
A final round of fixtures will be played on November 12 to 13, meaning just eight days of preparation for the England squad.
ESPN claim that the FA have requested for no Premier League matches between Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham take place on that weekend.
Of the England squad named for fixtures in June against Hungary, Germany and Italy, a total of 14 from the 27-man squad were from ‘big six’ clubs.
The risk of injuries ahead of a major competition is a concern for Southgate having once experienced the loss of Joe Gomez right before a round of international fixtures, an occurrence he put down to fixture congestion.
He said: “I spoke about this right at the beginning of the season. With Joe [we have] a good example.
“We knew the load he has had in the last six weeks or so. We gave him and the other players who had been in European matches who played Sunday, an extra day’s recovery. Yet still something like this has happened. There are lots of discussions about extra subs. But the bigger picture here is, everybody in the game needs to work together.
“There was an opportunity this year to think differently. The pandemic has thrown up all sorts of difficulties for people. But everybody has tried to cram the programme into a smaller period. We are going to see injuries. It’s a desperately sad situation. When you see the impact on an individual, it hits home even more.”
Premier League fixtures are compiled at random through a system developed by Atos but are subjected to certain ‘golden rules’ which allow for a sight manipulation of the schedule. These include no team playing more than two consecutive fixtures at home or away, as well as ensuring two teams in close proximity in the same city – such as Everton and Liverpool – do not play at home on the same day for policing reasons.
The FA believe it is therefore reasonable to add a special golden rule on a one-off basis given the Qatar World Cup’s unusual scheduling in the middle of the regular season.
Southgate highlighted the issue when speaking about the difficulties posed by a winter World Cup in March.
He said: “What would help is if we don’t get a derby or those sorts of ‘big six’ games. But it’s not the fault of the League the World Cup is being held in the winter.”
The Premier League declined to comment when contacted by ESPN over whether the request would be granted but are believed to be considering it.