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First time in my life’ – Antonio Conte hits out at ‘strange’ NLD postponement decision and the League favouritism

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 09: manager Antonio Conte of Tottenham Hotspur during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Tottenham Hotspur and Morecambe at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on January 9, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

Antonio Conte has labelled the Premier League’s decision to postpone the north London derby as ‘strange’ and accused the league of doing ‘big damage’ to Tottenham by refusing to reschedule their meeting against Leicester. 

Antonio Conte has labelled the Premier League’s decision to postpone the north London derby as ‘strange’ and accused the league of doing ‘big damage’ to Tottenham by refusing to reschedule their meeting against Leicester.

 (Getty Images)

The Lilywhites were due to face Arsenal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday but will now next be in action against Leicester City tomorrow night away from home.

The derby, which was scheduled to take place on Sunday, was called off after Arsenal were hit by a combination of Covid, injury and international call-up issues.

At the time Spurs’s big rivals had just one confirmed Covid case, four players away at the Africa Cup of Nations and a string of injuries.

Spurs manager Conte said: ‘The club made a statement and I think that the club expressed our disappointment about the decision.

It was for sure a strange decision but I think the club made an important statement to tell about our disappointment for the decision.

‘If the Premier League decides to postpone game for injuries it means they have to try to make the best schedule and reduce maybe to play games if they don’t want injuries or the risk to postpone for injuries.

This is the first time in my life that there is a league that postpone the game for injuries. This is very strange and I’m very surprised for this.

‘If someone has to think of the welfare of the players you have to play less games and especially you have to play games not [every] two days, three days.

Otherwise do you speak about the welfare of the players? It is only an excuse or to tell something stupid in my opinion because you protect the players by giving them rest, to play and rest.

‘But if you want only to play you can’t speak about the welfare of the players. It is very strange here.’

Spurs were unable to play their final Europa Conference League group game against Rennes following a Covid outbreak.

They asked the Premier League to move their trip to Leicester – which will now finally take place on Wednesday – in order to make space to face for a rearranged meeting with the French side.

The Premier League refused though later postponed the game following a subsequent request from Leicester due to their Covid issues.

Spurs were eventually unable to agree a compromise date with Rennes, forced to forfeit the tie and lost their place in the competition.

Conte said: ‘It was a big damage to Tottenham from the Premier League. You have to protect your team and they penalised us in a bad way. We were penalised and from the Premier League not from UEFA.

Tottenham was dropped off from Conference League because the Premier League didn’t want to move the game against Leicester and then after a request of Leicester, if you remember, they postponed but Tottenham was dropped from UEFA.

‘The Premier League didn’t want to move the game against Leicester this is the only reason.

This is very strange and in this type of situation there is a big disappointment for us especially for us that we work and we love football, we work a lot to try and play this competition and then it’s very difficult to accept this decision also because in the past the decision penalised you.

But we can talk one hour here. We can talk one day. I understood that the situation is this and we have to accept but for sure there is a big disappointment for the decision that they are taking.’

Barring any late changes, Tottenham will play the arranged tie against Leicester at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday.

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