Earlier in the week the subject a winter break reappeared for the domestic game in this country, however the EFL have flatly ruled it out.
The idea of a Winter Break in English top flight football is hardly a new idea but recent talks over its introduction are now said to have been ‘constructive’.
It was reported that a Winter Break is was being seriously considered for introduction when the new television rights packages are agreed. Talks about such an idea to bring us more into line with the top leagues across Europe – Germany, France, Spain and Italy – already enjoy a mini break during the more, shall we say challenging weeks of the weather, and it has long been suggested that the England national team would gain greater success over our rivals if we took a step in that direction and didn’t push players through winter.
It must be said England might have more chance if they could perform, pass to each other and take penalties for balance.
However, back to the point.
With discussions about a Winter Break having been held for the last several months, those ongoing talks are believed to have been constructive and it’s only a matter of time before a formal agreement is made and the expectation is it will become a joint announcement with the new television deal, given further changes that will bring to the Premier League as cash continues to be chased and remains the primary driver.
Such a break wouldn’t be in December, so the traditional festive crush of fixtures for fans wouldn’t be effected, but the break would take place in January with the presumption being it would come into play after what is now becoming a New Year’s Day round of games.
With the television deal announcement expected imminently, a provision for a Winter Break was included in the tender documents that were sent to broadcasters, so clearly it’s on the cards for 2019/22.
A Premier League statement read.
‘The Premier League has been in discussions with the FA and EFL for several months regarding the challenges of the increasingly congested English football calendar and ways in which we can work together to ease fixture congestion while also giving players a mid-season break. Provided space can be found in the calendar, we are open to this in principle and will continue constructive discussions with our football stakeholders to seek a workable solution.’
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With the Premier League statement referencing talks with the EFL, yesterday evening the BBC quoted EFL chief Shaun Harvey addressing the matter, and whilst he admitted talks had been held, it was not under consideration for outside of the Premier League itself.
The simple fact being that at EFL levels we already play more games than the Premier League, so the idea of having a break and finding slots to make up matches would just be thoroughly unfeasible.
‘We have been involved in the discussions to start with. The EFL won’t observe a winter break. We have a 46-game season. We need as many Saturday 3pm kick-offs as possible. The reality is if it is about giving the England internationals a break at the Premier League clubs, we can carry on without negatively impacting on that objective.’