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Soccer-Valencia and Betis angered by kickoff time changes

Reuters

MADRID, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Valencia and Real Betis have reacted angrily after the Spanish football league (LFP) announced changes to the kickoff times of their respective March 2 games at Rayo Vallecano and Villarreal.

Valencia's match at Madrid-based Rayo was moved from midday local time (1100 GMT) to 2100 while Betis's game at Villarreal was switched from 2100 to midday, prompting accusations the LFP was showing a lack of consideration and respect for the clubs and fans.

The LFP said the matches in La Liga were switched to accommodate a ceremony at Villarreal involving local officials that will pay homage to the home supporters for the way they reacted to Saturday's teargas attack at their Madrigal stadium.

"As a result of this change a large majority of the hundreds of Valencianistas who had previously been able to attend the game at Vallecas have had to cancel their plans," eighth-placed Valencia said on their website (www.valenciacf.com) on Tuesday.

"The LFP, with their actions, have demonstrated a lack of sensitivity to Valencia CF and a lack of respect for the competition, its followers and supporters in general."

"A serious and prestigious Liga begins with a respect for the stated timetable."

Unlike most major European leagues, where kickoff times are set months in advance, the LFP typically finalises them only a couple of weeks before matches.

Clubs and supporters groups have long complained the situation gives them little time to plan ahead, particularly for long-distance trips to away games.

Bottom club Betis said they were especially angry as their Europa League last-32 second leg with Rubin Kazan was in Russia on Feb. 27 and they had planned the return assuming they would not be playing at Villarreal until the Sunday night.

"Bringing forward the time will damage Betis in both sporting and economic terms as the travel plans were finalised days ago," the Seville-based club said on their website (www.realbetisbalompie.es).

"Any attempt to bring dignity and seriousness to our league falls apart when such arbitrary decisions change fixed kickoff times without justification," they said while calling on the LFP to reverse its decision.

"The first step towards making our league respectable is to show respect to ourselves."

Valencia said club officials would not attend an LFP assembly in the city planned for Feb. 25 unless the league provided "a rectification for recent events". (Reporting by Iain Rogers; editing by Tony Jimenez)

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