Talks were being held, and continue, into the possibility of a winter break for the English game. Currently the Premier League is the only major European league to not have a rest midway through the season. Pep Guardiola, over the Christmas period, stated that the schedule was ‘killing the players’.
While that may be true, the pre season schedules some English sides partake in, certainly do the argument no favors. If the latest discussions come to fruition then we will be looking for our first break at the beginning of March 2020.
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The knock on effect of the break would mean that the Fifth round matches would take place as a midweek fixture. More important though, it would mean no replays. For the elite sides, that would be a good thing. I am sure Pochettino and Spurs would rather not be facing Rochdale later today.
And there in lies the issue with this idea. Rochdale, who are currently bottom of League One, will not see this as a distraction. The revenues a replay against a Premier League side generate can see a club like Rochdale financially viable for another season or two.
Even then the break would not be across the Premier League board. Currently it is planned for five games to happen one weekend, and another five the next. I think there are a lot of issues which need to be ironed out, as there is with anything.
Would the winter break take into consideration the UEFA competitions? Manchester City restarted their Champions League campaign against Basel of February 13th. So where would that fit in with each side being given those full thirteen days off?
On a personal note, I think a break is needed but I do think the sides will do themselves no favors by having extra friendlies both before and after the season. Again, Manchester City decided to go play a friendly against FC Girona a game or two into the new season. So when Pep talked recently of his players not having a midweek off since August, he didn’t help.
In theory I am for the break. The reality is that I fear the smaller clubs will be hurt more from the proposals. The elite sides will just use the rest time to get more money spinning trips to the Far East. And that would be disappointing.