sport

Fergie fumes over TV scheduling

Sir Alex Ferguson has launched an attack on the Premier League and accused it of handicapping English clubs involved in European football.

The Manchester United manager is furious his side must play Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday, reducing preparation time ahead of Wednesday's Champions League duel with Real Madrid.

When the Everton fixture was initially chosen for live TV screening by Sky, there was an option for the game to be played on Saturday lunchtime instead of Tottenham's clash with Newcastle should United have found themselves involved in a Tuesday European game.

But once it was confirmed for Wednesday, the match stayed when it was, even though both Tottenham and Newcastle do not play in the Europa League until Thursday.

By contrast, Real entertain Seville in La Liga on Saturday, offering vital extra time Ferguson fears could tip the balance away from his side.

"The Premier League agree the contract with TV and they are in control," he said. "But they are not giving our teams a chance to be successful in Europe.

"It is ridiculous to think we are playing on Sunday and Real Madrid have an extra day's rest.

"It is not fair. France play Friday nights. Why? Possibly we (England) get more money out of television I don't know.

"Other countries make sacrifices for their top teams in Europe.

"What can you do? Not turn up? I would like to do that by the way."

Ferguson has a bee in his bonnet about being asked to play Saturday lunchtime fixtures immediately after Champions League games too.

During the quarter and semi-finals, such congestion is inevitable given the first leg of half the fixtures are played on Wednesdays, with the second match the following Tuesday.

However, the United boss had an even worse example.

In April 2007, Tottenham played a Europa League tie in Seville before flying back and taking on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in a Saturday lunchtime game, which could not be moved because the hosts were stuck in that Wednesday-Tuesday Champions League fix.

"It is pointless complaining about these things all the time," he said.

"You know full well after an away game in Europe you are not getting back until two or three in the morning and then are playing again on the Saturday.

"There was an even more ridiculous case than ours when Tottenham played on a Thursday night in the Europa League and then had to play on the Saturday against Chelsea.

"How many times have I complained about it? You've heard my complaints. Do they listen?"

It means Ferguson will field a completely different team on Sunday compared to the one he selects in Madrid, explaining why he gave the green light for Roy Hodgson to use Wayne Rooney for the full 90 minutes in England's friendly with Brazil at Wembley on Wednesday.

Ferguson claimed his attitude "possibly" would have been different had the Everton game been played on Saturday.

However, one player who definitely will not face the Toffeemen is Paul Scholes, who has picked up a minor knee injury Ferguson hopes will have eased sufficiently for him to come into contention on Wednesday.

"Paul has missed the last couple of games but he started training on Thursday and should be okay for next week."