Jurgen Klopp has warned that his team will not be able to play their quarter-final against Aston Villa if the date does not suit them
Successful teams in football usually end up playing the most games in a given season and, it is often said, that is simply the cost of winning.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are discovering that burden this season as they compete on five fronts – the Premier League, Carabao Cup, Champions League, FA Cup and Club World Cup.
Immediately after his side booked their place in the Carabao Cup quarter-final with a sensational penalty shootout victory over Arsenal, Klopp aired his grievances and hinted that the Anfield club may have to withdraw.
But can it be done? Goal takes a look at Liverpool’s fixture headache and what might happen.
What did Jurgen Klopp say about the Carabao Cup fixtures?
Essentially, Klopp suggested that Liverpool will not continue in the Carabao Cup if EFL chiefs cannot find a suitable date for their quarter-final game to be played.
After his side’s victory over Arsenal, the German coach explained: “If they don’t find an appropriate place – and I don’t mean Christmas Day 3am – then we don’t play [the game].
“If they don’t find a proper date and we can’t play the next round, then whoever our opponent is will go through, or Arsenal play.
“I think a lot of people from the Premier League were sitting watching on television hoping Arsenal can do it. But I’m sorry.”
Can Liverpool pull out of the Carabao Cup?
In theory, there is nothing stopping Liverpool from withdrawing from the Carabao Cup. However, failure to meet their fixture obligations in the competition could result in punishment.
The withdrawal of a team such as Liverpool from the tournament would also have the potential to cause havoc for broadcasters, not to mention create a PR disaster for the EFL and English football.
The EFL rules for the Carabao Cup state that any club which fails “to fulfil its fixture obligations…shall be deemed guilty of misconduct.”
In such a scenario, if Liverpool effectively forfeit their place in the competition, they would then be “liable to pay compensation for any expenses actually incurred by the opposing club” per EFL rules.
What happens if Liverpool pull out of the Carabao Cup?
If Liverpool forfeit their place in the Carabao Cup, their quarter-final opponents Aston Villa are likely to receive a walkover and thus progress to the semi-final.
Arsenal, who were beaten by the Reds in the previous round, will not benefit from a withdrawal.
What fixtures do Liverpool have in December?
Liverpool will currently have to play nine games in the month of December, leaving very little time for rest in between.
The Reds kick off the month with a Merseyside derby against Everton on December 4 before playing Bournemouth away on December 7. They will then travel to Austria for a Champions League clash against Red Bull Salzburg three days after that, on December 10.
They return to Premier League action against Watford on December 14 and are scheduled to face Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on the week commencing December 16, with a date yet to be confirmed.
The big issue is the fact that they must travel to Qatar to take part in the Club World Cup, with their first match scheduled for December 18.
|Dec 4||Liverpool vs Everton||Premier League|
|Dec 7||Bournemouth vs Liverpool||Premier League|
|Dec 10||Red Bull Salzburg vs Liverpool||Champions League|
|Dec 14||Liverpool vs Watford||Premier League|
|Dec 16*||Aston Villa vs Liverpool||Carabao Cup|
|Dec 18||TBC||Club World Cup|
|Dec 21||TBC||Club World Cup|
|Dec 26||Leicester City vs Liverpool||Premier League|
|Dec 29||Liverpool vs Wolves||Premier League|
|Jan 2||Liverpool vs Sheffield United||Premier League|
*Exact date to be confirmed.
A second Club World Cup fixture – either a third-place play-off or the final – will be played on December 21.
Mercifully, the Merseyside club will have a break of five days – their longest of the month – before facing Leicester City in the Premier League on Boxing Day.
Three days after the post-Christmas clash against the Foxes, on December 29, Liverpool host Wolves and they then welcome Sheffield United to Anfield three days after that.
Has it been done before?
The idea of a club withdrawing from a tournament over fixture congestion concerns is not unprecedented in English football.
Manchester United withdrew from the 1999-2000 FA Cup, on invitation from the Football Association, in order to allow the treble-winning team to focus on their participation in the inaugural Club World Cup, which was being held in Brazil.
At the time, Red Devils boss Alex Ferguson welcomed the move, saying: “We can’t go for them all. We can’t play in the FA Cup and in Brazil. That would be impossible.”
While they were freed up from the responsibility of playing in the FA Cup, United did not fare well in the tournament and were eliminated at the group stage after registering a draw, a loss and a win.
Ferguson later revealed a tinge of regret at the move, but admitted that he also enjoyed the sojourn to Brazil.
“It turned out to be a disaster for us,” Ferguson told Inside United. “We did it to help England’s World Cup bid. That was the political situation.
“I regretted it because we got nothing but stick and terrible criticism for not being in the FA Cup when, really, it wasn’t our fault.
“The FA and the government felt that playing in this tournament would help England’s bid to host the 2006 World Cup. There was a lot of undue criticism – but it was a great two-week break.”
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