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Winter (break) is coming to the Premier League, sort of

The FA have finally come to their senses and will be introducing a two-week winter break...but not quite in winter.

General Views of UK Football Stadiums Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images

According to various reports from many credible outlets yesterday, the Football Association have come to the decision of taking up a two-week (sort of) winter (not quite) break from the 2019-20 season onward, a decision which has arguably been long overdue.

The Premier League’s fixture congestion has been a source of annual consternation for just about as long as we can remember, with teams lamenting the workload that tires out (or injures) their players while the rest of the European leagues are on vacation or are participating in low-key training exercises and possibly friendlies (depending on the length of the break). But at the same time, the Premier League’s festive period is a classic tradition that most agree should not be lost just because of modern theories about fitness and the pressure of winning things in Europe.

So The FA’s solution attempts to strike a middle-ground of sorts, by moving the FA Cup’s fifth-round from a dedicated weekend to mid-week (thus adding to fixture congestion!) and then splitting a matchweek over two weekends, in effect giving each team one weekend (and thirteen or so days overall) off — in effect it’s basically an international break for February, without international games. It’s a very minor change that doesn’t actually reduce the number of games for most teams since most teams don’t have to play FA Cup replays which are now scrapped for the 5th round.

From a traditional point of view, I first had mixed feelings towards this decision. While the break will most certainly help us stay fresher ahead of the remaining months of the season, as well as arguably making English teams quite a bit more competitive internationally, I always loved the festive period revolving around watching Chelsea every other day. However, as these two weeks are planed for early February, one would expect that, for example, the traditional Boxing Day fixture will remain in tact, though this is merely speculation at this point in time (fingers crossed).

It ultimately remains to be seen how the FA decides to shape the new fixture list for the season after next, but this generally seems to be a step in the right direction in order to keep players fit and, especially, healthy.

(Ed.note: or if they wanted real change, they could’ve gotten rid of the useless League Cup. Or they could reduce the Premier League to just 18 teams, like most top flight leagues around Europe. Or, if they wanted to go even bigger, convince everyone to get rid of all the FIFA-mandated international breaks (4x weekends) that disrupt the season and serve no real purpose — play those games in the summer, or not at all — and spread out the schedule.)

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