Collymore: If player welfare is important, scrap the ‘breaking new markets’ nonsense

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The issue of player welfare tends to come up every so often, normally when players are injured ahead of summer tournaments and because of playing far too many games in the previous campaign.

Such is the price to be paid if you’re a football player at the top level, however, it’s about time that the powers that be pay more than lip service to a situation that’s fast becoming out of hand.

For example, the 2023/24 Premier League campaign had literally just finished but that didn’t stop Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur heading to Australia to play a post-season friendly – at the end of a gruelling nine-month season and right before players need to travel with their national teams for either the European Championship or Copa America.

Summer friendlies and non-mandated tournaments need to stop says Collymore

Those two tournaments and the World Cup are arguably exceptions, but it’s the incessant summer friendlies and money-making games that are disrupting the equilibrium for players that can’t ever seem to get off the hamster wheel.

Former professional, Stan Collymore, has a simple enough solution.

“Darwin Nunez scored a hat trick on Wednesday and we’re only less than two weeks after the Premier League finished,” he said to CaughtOffside for his exclusive column.

“Other than for international tournaments, which tend to start mid June – as we’ve seen with the Euros and their equivalent – I think that we need to have a serious look at post-season friendlies and almost ban teams from going because for the amount of money they get (£2m-£5m a pop) I don’t think it’s financially worthwhile.

Stan Collymore is very unhappy with the amount of summer friendlies and tournaments played at present

“When people say ‘Oh, we’re breaking new markets,’ no you’re not. You’re just going for a little greedy couple of million pounds payout, which which will go into the coffers.

“I think that any games in the domestic leagues, the Champions League and all European football should be done by the end of May. That can be done. The FA Cup could be in the middle or towards the end of May, and then, like what used to happen with teams winning the European Cup, they’d literally get on a flight and go the next Wednesday or the next Saturday.

“There should be a moratorium for end of season friendlies and pre-season friendlies. The calendar should stop at a certain point and proper breaks put in.

“When there is no mandated European Championship or World Cup tournament, or if you are not included in those squads for those tournaments, you get four to six weeks off. No exceptions, no tours, no nothing.

“All of the superfluous tournaments, lucrative games and the Nations League would be scrapped.”

As someone who has played professional football at the elite level, Collymore knows what he’s talking about, and if clubs are going to continue going after the pound note, then they also have to accept that, when they arrive at the business end of the following season, some of their players will be too tired to perform at their best.

Unless players make a real stand and refuse to play in these nonsensical matches, then they’ll only continue lining the pockets of those whose only interest is to get rich quick.

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