Lineker sends appeal to BPL broadcasters

Gary Lineker has pleaded with broadcasters to help England by agreeing not to move two high-profile Premier League matches early in the new season.

Arsenal vs Tottenham

England boss Roy Hodgson fears he will be denied crucial preparation time ahead of this autumn's World Cup qualifiers after the Premier League opted not to take into account his views on the new fixture list.

And former England striker Lineker is backing Hodgson, even though between them BSkyB and BT Vision have spent an astonishing £3billion to broadcast 154 games per season between them for the next three campaigns.

Lineker, who presents the BBC's Match of the Day show, wrote on Twitter: "Onus now on Sky and BTsport to do the right thing and leave the games on Saturday.

"Time to put nation's interests before their own."

The issue is complicated further by Tottenham's presence in the final qualifying round of the Europa League, which means their high-profile encounter with Arsenal is almost certain to be played on Sunday, September 1 whether it is selected for live coverage or not.

Hodgson met with Premier League bosses to plead for the teams who make up the bulk of his squad not to be involved in some of the most significant matches of the season immediately before international breaks in September and October.

Instead, Hodgson discovered that, in addition to the north London derby, Liverpool entertain Manchester United on the last weekend in August, days before England face Moldova on September 6. England also have a vital trip to Ukraine on September 10.

The situation has left Hodgson wondering whether the meeting was a waste of time, amid fears of injuries in such high-octane games.

Premier League insiders have questioned what the fuss is all about, wondering why players would be more at risk of fitness issues against one opponent than another.

However, it seems Hodgson's point was more related to the likelihood of teams playing on the Sunday, rather than the Saturday.

As local police would be highly unlikely to sanction a Saturday evening kick-off for either fixture on safety grounds, it seems at least one of the games will be switched to the Sunday, with Tottenham almost certainly requesting it anyway due to their Europa League qualifier the previous Thursday.

This means that instead of being able to hold a full training session at Burton on the Monday ahead of that Moldova encounter four days later, Hodgson will have a number of players missing.

Depending on recovery time, it could be as late as the Wednesday before England have a full session, which is hardly ideal, even against opponents as limited as Moldova.

The situation is not quite as bad in October, before England face Montenegro and Poland at Wembley.

However the fact Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are all away from home at the end of a Champions League week, and Manchester City tackle Everton in a north-west derby, mean the chances are a couple of those games will be switched to the Sunday as well.

And before the November dates when any play-off matches will be held, Manchester United are due to entertain Arsenal, with Tottenham facing Newcastle in another eye-catching fixture.

England are presently two points adrift of leaders Montenegro in Group H, but are now only two points ahead of Ukraine, who face minnows San Marino in two of their final four fixtures.

Yet, given the huge amount of interest in the appointments of Jose Mourinho, David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini, wider interest in the England team is at a low ebb, with even Lineker's request for those who share his opinions to make themselves known falling on deaf ears.

"Seems many of you no longer care about the national team. Is this really the case?" he said.

"I guess this justifies the Premier League's disregard for the best interests of England?"

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