We’re not even halfway through the 2021-22 Premier League season, but the schedule for next season has already been firmed up and announced. Usually this doesn’t happen until the spring, but this early announcement was necessitated by FIFA’s still-flabbergasting decision to not only award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, but agree to hold it in the winter (because, you know, it’s very hot in the summer in Qatar and air-conditioned open-air stadiums were an hilarious pipedream).
This decision will be most impactful in the Premier League, not only because of the great proportion of players expected to participate in the World Cup, but because the league itself is one of the few without a winter break already built in.
So how do you make room for a monthlong tournament in the middle of the season (with a week before and after to prepare and recover), and right during some of the most congested part of it? By bringing forward the start of the season by one weekend, pushing out the end of the season by one weekend, and enjoying life without the two-week October and November international breaks (which FIFA obviously won’t hold): 1+1+2+2=6.
So, the season will start on August 6, the earliest start date for the Premier League ever (though we did start on August 7 back in 1999, to try to accommodate UEFA’s two-group-stage* brainchild in the Champions League), and will end on May 28, the latest end date for the Premier League ever when not affected by a 100-day break due to a global pandemic.
The break will start after Matchday 16.
This schedule is the exact same one that was proposed as a draft two years ago, and since none of the circumstances have changed and FIFA have not come to their good senses, we now get to actually put it into practice.
* Chelsea made it to the quarterfinals in 1999-2000, and since we started in the qualifying round, this meant a whopping 16 games in Europe: 2 games home and away to qualify, 6 games in the first group stage, 6 games in the second group stage, and 2 games home and away in the quarterfinal defeat to Barcelona. This silliness lasted just four years thankfully, with the current format introduced in 2003. Now you can win the whole thing in just 13 games (starting in the group stage)! Though the next cashgrab by UEFA, FIFA, or whoever else is never too far away.