In Review

Sport on TV: what to watch and when over Christmas

While the rest of us enjoy a hard-earned festive break footballers, cricketers and rugby players and jockeys have to keep going

Christmas may mean time off for most of us, but spare a thought for the nation's athletes (and horses) who will be forced to turn down those tempting offers of mince pies and Champagne, as well as that second helping of turkey, in order to perform over the festive period.

Here's the best of what's on TV and when:

Football:

As ever, it's the hectic Premier League Christmas schedule that forms the centrepiece of this year's festive offering. The clash between Manchester United and Chelsea on 28 December is the biggest game of the holidays, but the match between Leicester City and Manchester City a day later will have a greater bearing on the title race. Who would have thought that back in August?

BT Sport has the stronger line-up of matches over the Christmas period this year, but Sky backs up its top-flight games with coverage of the Championship, with Leeds facing Nottingham Forest and Derby County on 27 and 29 December, and SPL games including Hearts vs Celtic on 27 December.

The Spanish league has a shorter winter break than usual this year, meaning there is a full round of games from Spain on 30 December. They will be available on Sky Sports.

The third round of the FA Cup falls on the second weekend of January this year, meaning that there is no live football on terrestrial TV.

Here are the televised English football fixtures:

Saturday 26 December

Premier League: Stoke City vs Manchester United, 12.45pm (Sky Sports), Newcastle United vs Everton, 5.30pm (BT Sport), Southampton vs Arsenal, 7.45pm (BT Sport), Match of the Day, 10.30pm (BBC1)

Championship: Wolves vs Reading, 5.15pm (Sky Sports), Football League Tonight, 9pm (Channel 5)

Sunday 27 December

Championship: Nottingham Forest vs Leeds United, 4.30pm (Sky Sports)

Monday 28 December

Premier League: Manchester United vs Chelsea, 5.30pm (BT Sport), Match of the Day, 10.30pm (BBC1)

Championship: Bolton Wanderers vs Blackburn Rovers, 12.45pm (Sky Sports), Middlesbrough vs Sheffield Wednesday, 5.15pm (Sky Sports)

Tuesday 29 December

Premier League: Leicester City vs Manchester City, 7.45pm (BT Sport)

Championship: Leeds United vs Derby County, 7.45pm (Sky Sports)

Wednesday 30 December

Premier League: Sunderland vs Liverpool, 7.45pm (Sky Sports)

Friday 1 January

Championship: Brighton vs Wolves, 3pm (Sky Sports)

Championship: QPR vs Hull City, 5.30pm (Sky Sports)

Saturday 2 January

Premier League: West Ham vs Liverpool, 12.45pm (BT Sport), Watford vs Manchester City, 5.30pm (Sky Sports), Match of the Day, 10.30pm (BBC1)

Sunday 3 January

Premier League: Crystal Palace vs Chelsea, 1.30pm (Sky Sports), Everton vs Tottenham, 4pm (Sky Sports), Match of the Day 2, 11.25pm (BBC1)

Cricket:

England's Test series against South Africa gets underway at 8am on Boxing Day on Sky Sports. The second Test comes soon afterwards and that gets underway 2 January at 8am.

Elsewhere in the world there is a Test series between Australia and the West Indies, and play in the Boxing Day Test gets underway at 10.30pm on Christmas Day.

There is also a One Day series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka and action from Australia's Big Bash T20 league to enjoy.

Rugby:

The festive rugby calendar is just as hectic as the football version, and just to add to the confusion, you can watch live games from different competitions on the BBC, other stations Wales and Ireland, as well as Sky and BT Sport.

Guinness Pro 12 is shown mainly on Sky Sports, with some games on regional BBC, S4C and Irish station TG4. There are two live games on Boxing Day and three on 27 December. These are followed by three live games on New Year's Day and two on 2 January.

Sky will also show two French Top 14 on 27 December including Toulouse vs Toulon at 8pm.

Premiership action is shown only on BT Sport, although there is a highlights show on ITV on Sunday nights, which is also available online. Here are the televised fixtures:

Saturday 26 December

London Irish vs Northampton, 2.30pm

Sunday 27 December

London Wasps vs Saracens, 2.00pm, Harlequins vs Gloucester, 4.30pm

Friday 1 January

Northampton vs Exeter, 3.00pm

Saturday 2 January

Saracens vs Leicester, 3.15pm, Sale Sharks vs London Wasps, 5.30pm

Sunday 3 January

Worcester vs Harlequins, 3.00pm

American Football

The NFL is bigger than ever in the UK and there is plenty of action over Christmas as the season reaches a climax. Sky Sports is showing six of the matches from Week 16 of the regular season with coverage from all the others. The BBC also has a highlights show on 30 December.

Live games Week 16:

San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders, 1.25am, 25 December

Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles, 1.25am, 27 December

New England Patriots @ New York Jets, 6.00pm, 27 December

Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals, 9.25pm, 27 December

New York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings, 1.30am, 28 December

Cincinnati Bengals @ Denver Broncos, 1.30am, 29 December

The divisional clash between the Redskins and Eagles will be particularly crucial in the NFC, while the Bengals can secure a first round bye in the play-offs with victory over the Broncos in the AFC.

The following week's action, the last of the regular season, takes place on Sunday evening, with 13 games kicking off at 6pm and three games at 9.25pm.

Racing

If you think footballers have it tough over Christmas spare a thought for the nation's jockeys who will be out in force at meetings up and down the country every day of the holidays from Boxing Day onwards.

Races from around the country will be shown on Channel 4, At The Races and Racing UK throughout the festive period.

The big race on Boxing Day is the George VI Chase at 3.10pm at Kempton, which will be shown on Channel 4. A day later is the Welsh Grand National at 2.35pm at Chepstow.

Darts

Finally, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without some arrows. The PDC World Darts Championship is already underway and the action resumes after a Christmas break on 27 December. The tournament is being shown on Sky Sports and the final is on 3 January.

That final weekend of the holidays also sees the start of the BDO World Darts Championships, which will be shown on the BBC and BT Sport.

The rival BDO World Championship begins that weekend and will be shown on BT Sport.

Recommended

Premier League: what we learned from the opening weekend
Erling Haaland scored both goals on his Premier League debut for Manchester City
View from the terraces

Premier League: what we learned from the opening weekend

F1 ‘silly season’ hits top speed as 2023 grid takes shape
Oscar Piastri denied he would be driving for Alpine in 2023
Behind the scenes

F1 ‘silly season’ hits top speed as 2023 grid takes shape

Online abuse in football: ‘the dark side to the beautiful game’
Man Utd’s Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo are two players regularly targeted
Talking point

Online abuse in football: ‘the dark side to the beautiful game’

Premier League predictions: title winners and relegation
The Premier League trophy
View from the terraces

Premier League predictions: title winners and relegation

Popular articles

Will China invade Taiwan?
Chinese troops on mobile rocket launchers during a parade in Beijing
Fact file

Will China invade Taiwan?

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Best new TV crime dramas of 2022
Roger Allam and Nancy Carroll in Murder in Provence
In Depth

Best new TV crime dramas of 2022

The Week Footer Banner