‘It doesn’t sit well with me’: Papas airs disbelief at fixture’s late change

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Newcastle Jets coach Arthur Papas is asking for answers after the A-Leagues’ late decision to bring their kickoff forward 24-hours and change his side’s opponent, saying it did not sit well with him.

The Jets have been the latest team in the A-League Men’s affected by the chopping and changing of a pandemic, as the A-Leagues scrambles to deal with the impact of COVID.

Whilst the A-Leagues has had two years to deal with COVID-19 and its ramifications, Papas said that this year’s backlog of postponed games and the subsequent short turn around was something he had never seen before.

“It’s the first time in my career that something like this has happened,” he said.

“It doesn’t sit well with me.”

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Whilst many coaches have openly expressed their frustration over the last-minute changes, Papas has remained focused and for the most part, welcomed the challenge.

It appears, however, that a last minute 8.05pm Tuesday night game was the straw that broke the camel’s back. With Papas finally letting us know what he really thinks regarding his squad being made to play seven games in 28 days.

“I’m not pleased about it,” he said.

“It’s beyond challenging to do that to teams and coaches and players when everything we do is about planning and process.”

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Not only was the last-minute Tuesday night game a change from the original plan, but the Jets opponent also changed to Melbourne City.

The Jets were meant to play Perth Glory on Wednesday, but a COVID outbreak in the Glory camp put the side out of action.

Newcastle will now play one day earlier, against a City instead.

“We have to play a game 24-hours prior to a different team that we haven’t prepared for,” Papas said.

“Changing the opponent changes everything. It’s very difficult to make such an adjustment so late if you want to prepare to put on your best performances.

“It’s difficult to find the right word to explain it but you can’t just flip things like that and expect everyone to come out and adjust like this.”

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Despite his own frustrations around the upcoming congested fixture, Papas’ main concern was for his players.

“My concern is always for my players and making sure that we’re giving them the best platform to perform at the best level,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we ended up being the team that missed the most time on the field at 42 days.

“We knew that because of that we were going to have a congested fixture, but we still want to be able to plan for that as much as possible.”

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Whilst his main concern was his players and their wellbeing, Papas also felt for the fans of the club regarding the late kickoff on a weeknight.

“We’re playing late on a Tuesday night, so we miss an opportunity to play in front of a bigger crowd at home,” he said.

“I’ve been trying to get an explanation, but we haven’t got one.”

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Although he was more than unsatisfied with how the situation had been handled, Papas was committed to getting on with the challenge and said his team have been nothing but troopers.

“The boys have been outstanding to work with under these conditions,” he said.

“We just have to change and adapt. It is what it is.”

Feature Image Credit: Sproule Sports Focus

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Grace Clegg
Grace Clegg
Covering the Newcastle Jets for the 2021/22 season. Studying a Bachelor of Communication (News Media and PR) at the University of Newcastle. Coffee addict.

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