Since 1871, December 26 – also known as Boxing Day – has been a public holiday in England. Since the Premier League does not stop fighting and is played throughout the holiday season, it is a sales day but not a football day. “This is a moment of sharing and integration” as described by Vincent Southell at FranceInfo. The sports economist explains that maintaining these matches avoids “real” economic problems and allows the Premier League to be the “only championship to watch between Christmas and New Year’s Day”.
franceinfo: Why is this Boxing Day tradition so important in the UK?
Vincent Satell: It is a moment of sharing and unity. Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, when people are available and they have two to three days of competition, it is time for English football to take advantage of this ceasefire period. It was a ceremony, a meeting now established and a moment when the league was able to sell to the broadcasters. In this case, Amazon bought the bundle of matches this year and, of course, if it had been postponed it would have caused economic trouble for the league. But above all, I believe this is a reflection of the weight of football in British society. In France, we did not hesitate to cancel the championship due to Covit-19. In England, Boris Johnson avoided this kind of decision, he already had the problem of celebrity.
If matches are postponed due to Govt-19, what should be done?
The broadcaster has planned this period. If the matches do not happen, we have to find a plan B. We see it in France, for example, with Rugby Boxing Day. Sunday evening, State Toulouse – State Franchise and Canal + to find a plan.
On the contrary, will the maintenance of these matches, which are postponed on a very tight schedule, cause a problem for the Premier League Championship?
Yes definitely. But in 2020 we saw it, championships and leagues were organized. But here, we are still on a very restricted calendar because of the special year of the World Cup. The competition takes place in November and December. So, to start again in the summer and play the first part of the championship before this World Cup we have to finish the championship at all costs by the end of May. That’s why postponed matches cause real problems. Finally, the Cup of African Nations starts on January 9, and players like Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah, for example, should not play in the hope that they will return without isolation.
Is this Boxing Day in the UK also a way to highlight England football internationally? In France, for example, since there is a ceasefire, can football supporters aspire to English football?
Of course, that too is the reason for the success. Its internationalization is responsible for the success of the Premier League. This is first and foremost natural with all the countries of the Commonwealth. Then again, this particular boxing day window is effective, allowing you to see only between Christmas and New Year. For example, this is the lesson that makes a difference in the Bundesliga, which had long winter breaks. This is an opportunity to watch mainly English football. Bundesliga did just that. This is the first championship to start again despite the Govt-19. There was only the Bundesliga to watch, which allowed the German league to reveal more. So there is a tactical dimension in this media window.
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