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Prem stars face fixture nightmare as pile-up sees THIRD of games crammed into December and January

THE new football season will be the most hectic in history.

Premier League, FA and Carabao Cup dates were  released yesterday as part of an eight-month coronavirus-enforced fixture pile-up. It means:

Fans will finally be allowed to return to stadiums next month — but the Government will cap the number allowed inside and supporters may be banned from singing for fear of spreading the killer Covid-19 bug.

The new Prem season kicks-off on  September 12, concluding on May 23, with the Champions League and Europa League finals to be played in the  following week.

And that leaves less than a fortnight between the end of the club season and the first game of the rescheduled European Championship finals.

Prem clubs also face a nightmare festive period with 12 matches between December 5 and January 30 — plus a possible FOUR domestic cup games.

With two rounds of Champions and Europa League games also being staged in December, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Leicester, Arsenal and Spurs could be forced to play 18 games over nine weeks.

The bonkers fixture list will give fans a feast of football following the lockdown.

But world players’ union Fifpro chief Jonas Baer-Hoffmann has warned footballers face burn-out with an overcrowded calendar for three years.

He said:  “There is a big question of how we manage the load in a very condensed period.

“Rather than eliminate fixtures, most leagues are cramming them into a shorter period of time.”

Wolves have just completed a 383-day season of 59 games, while Spurs are the first casualties of the fixture congestion.

Jose Mourinho’s men have to play three rounds  of Europa League qualifying — on September 17,  September 24 and October 1, all on Thursday nights two days after a Carabao Cup game.

Spurs are in talks with EFL chiefs to try to find a solution but they  may  have  little choice but to field two separate teams in the two competitions throughout September.

There will be a similar problem for Manchester City or Manchester United if either are needed to play in the Uefa Super Cup, which is also scheduled for September 24 in Budapest.

Both clubs also face the prospect of having no pre-season if they make it to this month’s Champions League final (August 23) and  Europa League final (August 21) respectively.

And should City win the Champions League, they may well have to travel to Qatar to compete in the Fifa Club World Cup in December.

As it is, clubs who  progress in the Carabao Cup will be expected to play a minimum of six league and cup games in the opening three weeks of the campaign.

The FA Cup begins on September 1 with the extra preliminary round, with the Wembley final set for May 15 — before the end of the Prem season.

But all replays have been scrapped, as have the two-legged Carabao Cup  semi-finals, which will now be just  one-off games.

The Premier League fixtures will be released before next weekend while the EFL games are announced at 9am next Friday.

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