Football fans have been spared the risk of potentially getting home in the early hours of Christmas Day morning after the Premier League confirmed any match on Christmas Eve would kick off before 16.00 GMT.

A final decision over whether any fixtures at all will take place and their eventual starting times will be made later this month, but the prospect of a 16.00 GMT kick-off has been averted after a meeting between the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) and the Premier League on Tuesday (10 October).

"We welcome this development in guaranteeing there will be no 4pm kick-offs on Christmas Eve," said the FSF's chief executive, Kevin Miles.

"While we understand that it is a normal working day for many, the complications Christmas Eve brings, not least with the provision of public transport, means that a late afternoon or evening kick-off would be impossible for many supporters."

Late last month, Sky Sports floated the idea of switching Arsenal's clash with Liverpool from 23 December to the following day, suggesting kick-off could have potentially been moved to 16.00 GMT, the broadcaster's prime time slot on a Sunday afternoon.

The proposal was met by fierce criticism in light of the difficulties of travelling to and from London on Christmas Eve. The last train from London Euston to Liverpool leaves at 9.21pm on Christmas Eve, but does not pull into Liverpool Lime Street until the early hours of Christmas Day.

The FSF described the proposal as "a new low point in putting the interests of football broadcasters over those of match-going fans".

Miles added the meeting with the Premier League's executive chairman, Richard Scudamore, had proved fruitful and he welcomed the opening of a channel of negotiation between the league and representatives from supporters of all 20 clubs.

"We are starting to establish a basis for genuine dialogue," he added. "Even when we have differences of opinion we at least understand each other's point of view. The Premier League have made genuine efforts to meet our requirements."

Sky had the chance to shift games to Christmas Eve in 2000 and 2006 but declined to do so, largely because back then it held exclusive rights to the English top-flight. However, given that Sky now shares broadcasting rights with BT Sport and considering the profile of a fixture between Arsenal and Liverpool, it had considered moving the game to 24 December.

Under the current broadcasting arrangements, Sky cannot move its pick to 23 December at 17.30 GMT, as that spot on Saturday afternoon is one of the reserved slots for BT Sport. The other games that could be moved to Christmas Eve are Manchester United's trip to Leicester and Chelsea's home game against Everton.

However, the former could be a logistical nightmare as Leicester Tigers are also scheduled to play at home and the two clubs cannot stage home games on the same day. However, moving the Tigers' game against Saracens is all but impossible given it is scheduled to be broadcast on BT Sport as part of its coverage of Aviva Premiership rugby.

There has not been a Premier League game on Christmas Eve since the 1995-96 season, when Leeds United beat Manchester United 3-1 at Elland Road.