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Post-season friendlies like Tottenham vs Newcastle are reckless and must be banned

Son Heung-Min facepalm

Unfortunately for Eddie Howe, as long as he stays at Newcastle United, or Ange Postecoglou, while head coach of Tottenham Hotspur, they can never legitimately complain about fatigue or fixture congestion ever again.

The utterly ridiculous decision to fly to Australia within hours of the Premier League season ending – for just one friendly in Tottenham’s case and two games for Newcastle – means their arguments will be hollow and hypocritical. Arsenal’s women, who played their last Women’s Super League match on Saturday, have also headed Down Under to take on an A-League All-Stars team.

It was their clubs, their employers, who decided to do these trips, of course, but they are complicit. Is the money really worth it?

Environmentally alone the post-season games 10,500 miles away are obscene. Taking such flights for such a short period of time is indefensible. It also makes a mockery of such gimmicks as the Premier League’s ‘green weekend’ which, apparently, “unleashes the power of football to rally fans and families to take action on climate changes”.

And here are two of its biggest clubs completely ignoring that. That is a lot of carbon-offsetting to digest and it will not suffice for players to share their “go-to veggie recipes”. Football clubs take far too many flights anyway. It is a conversation that needs to be had as to why they must criss-cross the country by air for league games.

But flying to Australia? Spurs, with a squad of 24, will only play one game – against Newcastle at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday morning UK time. Then Newcastle, who have taken a 29-man squad, face the Australian All-Stars on Friday night in a double-header with Arsenal’s women.

And that is it. Then many of those players will have to prepare for international tournaments. Given they must have a break, it will take the likes of Kieran Trippier, Nick Pope and James Maddison, if selected, out of the vital preparations for England’s first warm-up match for Euro 2024 against Bosnia at St James’ Park on June 3.

Given that Trippier and Pope have only just returned from injury, given that Maddison is desperately struggling for form and with his place in serious doubt then just where is the sense in playing these games? And those are just the England players.

Postecoglou has admitted the trip is “not ideal” which is some understatement but reasoning that it is less harmful because it will only be Spurs’ 41st game of the season – having not played in Europe or progressed in the cups – is nonsensical. Now is the time for the players to rest. And Spurs have had their injury issues.

For Newcastle it is even more acute. They have already played 51 games and Howe has struggled with a crippling injury list and an overstretched squad. He has complained about congestion, about playing games with minimal rest. But he cannot do that anymore. If he does next season the first question to him should be: why did you agree to the Australian trip?

The clubs’ reasoning is clear especially at a time when any added revenue is a bonus as they fight to ensure they comply with the Premier League’s financial rules. But whatever the fee Spurs and Newcastle are receiving and whatever money it leads to, it is just not worth it.

Spurs are already going to Japan and South Korea for their pre-season tour. Newcastle are also going to Japan, and then Germany. That will be demanding enough while next season’s schedule is even busier than this one. This post-season trip is simply reckless and such fixtures should be banned.

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