The Champions League will evolve once again this season as Uefa introduce new kick-off times for the group stages.
Traditionally getting started at 7.45pm GMT/BST, the group stages will now have a three-season trial that will see the slightly later kick-off time of 8 pm introduced, as well as a much earlier 5.55pm slot.
The final group matchdays, on December 11th and 12th, will see fixtures from the same groups kick off at the same time, with groups D and G being assigned the 5.55 pm slots – neither group contains a Premier League team. The competition has a sole kick-off time of 8 pm for the knockout rounds.
The official reason provided by Uefa.com for this is to allow fans to “watch more games than ever before,” but football’s European governing body will be well aware that staggering kick-off times will, in turn, increase revenue with more games being accessible for TV broadcasting.
The early kick-off time also means that fans in Asia and Austrailia will only have to stay up until around 3 am to watch Champions League games, instead of the 5 am slog they have previously endured.
In total, the change will affect four games involving Premier League clubs, with Tottenham’s away games at Inter Milan and PSV, on September 18th and October 24th respectively, both kicking off at 5.55 pm. Meanwhile, Manchester City’s away trip to Hoffenheim on October 2nd and Liverpool’s away clash with Red Star Belgrade, on November 6th, will also have the early slot.
Despite the obvious benefits for the global fan base of many Champions League clubs, a lot of fans closer to home have taken to Twitter to show their displeasure and confusion over the changes, with the early kick-off especially drawing some negative attention with fans worrying about whether they will be able to get back from work in time for the start of matches. Some supporters, however, are seeing the positives.
The Champions League group stages get underway on Tuesday, with Barcelona v PSV and Inter Milan v Tottenham both kicking off at 5.55pm.