In Brief

Premier League winter break: how it would work

English football could get its first break from competitive games in the 2019-2020 season

In February the Premier League was ‘open’ to the idea of a winter break. Now it appears that planned changes have been “agreed in principle” for the 2019-2020 season. 

Sky Sports News reports that the Football Association (FA), Premier League and English Football League (EFL) are “close to an agreement”. Following in the footsteps of leagues in Germany, France, Italy and Spain, Sky understands that an English football top-flight winter break will be “pencilled in” for January and February in 2020. 

The BBC says that confirmed plans for the Premier League’s two-week break could be announced before the end of the current season. 

Richard Conway, a BBC Sports News correspondent, writes: “A Uefa study published a few years ago indicated that a player is four times more likely to be injured in the final three months of the Premier League season than over the same period in other European leagues. There are also the mental benefits of having a break – offering refreshment for both mind and body.”

We look at the proposed changes and how they would affect Premier League fixtures and FA Cup ties.

Premier League winter break: when would it start?

The winter break would first happen in late January and early February 2020. The break would not affect the Christmas and New Year festive fixtures.

How would a winter break work?

It would be held over two weeks and one round of Premier League games would be staggered, says Sky Sports, to allow clubs to have a break from “league action”. With one round staggered, five Premier League games would be played one weekend and five played the next. This would allow all 20 Premier League clubs to have at least 13 days between games. Don’t expect Premier League clubs to jet off on a lucrative international tour though…

It’s a break to help players rest – not for clubs to make money

Yesterday Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis promised FA councillors that the planned winter break would be used to rest players and not for the clubs to embark on “money-spinning overseas tours”. The Times reports that Gazidis said that the 20 Premier League clubs believed that players would benefit from “complete rest, both physically and mentally”.

Sky says that because training will still need to take place it’s “not a full fortnight of rest either”. Teams would be allowed to travel for warm weather training camps, but “money-making tours in the US or Far East would not be received so well”.

What about the FA Cup?

The BBC says that yesterday the FA council reached a deal so that the FA Cup fifth-round matches would be held during midweek and without replays. Third and fourth-round FA Cup replays would still go ahead. “That would limit any potential financial impact on English Football League teams missing out on extra gate revenue,” says the BBC.

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