QPR boss Warburton slams EFL over fixture scheduling

QPR boss Mark Warburton has accused the English Football League of setting clubs up to fail with their fixture scheduling.

Rangers take on Blackburn on Tuesday before facing Peterborough on Saturday, which is the first of three matches in six days with Sunderland visiting for the Carabao Cup fourth-round tie before Nottingham Forest arrive in W12 for a televised Friday night game.

Warburton has been a long-time critic of the demands being imposed upon players and said the decision to make his team play next Friday after such an important cup game three days earlier risks damaging the integrity of a competition which already suffers from many clubs paying it lip service by fielding under-strength sides in the earlier rounds.

“I have to question that decision,” Warburton said.

“I get the complexity of organising the fixture schedule, but we played Everton in the Carabao Cup and then we had West Brom away on the Friday night.

“Earlier this season we played Hull City away on the Saturday, Middlesbrough away on the Wednesday and then we are live on TV at 12.30 on the Saturday against Barnsley.

“Now again we have an important Carabao Cup game with the chance to get to the quarter-finals and we are once again playing live on TV on Friday night.

“Then we have Cardiff away on a Wednesday night and now they have moved our game at Blackpool to Saturday night, you have to question it.

“It’s almost gearing you up to fail.”

Rangers have the chance to reach the last eight of a major cup competition for the first time since 1996 if they can beat League One high-flyers Sunderland and Warburton insists it’s a game that deserves full respect.

“You saw the atmosphere we had against Everton. I don’t want to field a weakened team, you have the chance to reach the last eight of a major tournament and you want the ground packed and the fans to get behind the players,” he said.

“But we are asking these boys to play every three days. We, like many other clubs at this level, can’t afford to carry 24 or 25-man squads.

“There are players at all clubs going down with hamstring strains, ACL injuries, because of the demands we are placing on them.

“At the end of the day, punters pay a lot of money to watch the game and if we have players falling by the wayside then the quality of the product is diluted.

“After this run of games the players will be running on empty.

“We’ll get home from Cardiff in the early hours of Thursday morning and then because of Saturday’s changed kick-off time, we will get back at two or three in the morning on Sunday because it is too late to get a train at that time back to London.

“I have spoken to many other managers and they feel the same. We all say ‘Why the Wednesday away and then again on the Saturday?’ That is what kills you and more and more managers feel this.

“I appreciate the (Sky) red button. I appreciate the money TV brings in I get all of that. But the fact is we have to give players every chance.

“Some of these injuries are very serious and we have to look after their futures. After all, they are the most important people.”