Rumours continue to swirl around a possible winter break for the Premier League. A 2 week break in February is looking increasingly likely. Of course, all of this is in aid of making the national team more competitive for major tournaments, helping English clubs in Europe – we all know the reasons behind it. But is the winter break the answer? To be honest, I’m yet to be convinced…
The principal argument stems from players having the break, and they’ll be less tired going into the summer. That does not make sense to me at all. Think about it – a team misses 3 games, where will they get played? Midweek of course – which means more games eligible for TV, which means more money for the broadcasters. I’m not cynical, but with a winter break I can see complaints about fixture congestion only get pushed to later in the season. How would Manchester City balance a Champions League run with a midweek game every single week?
We look at Spain and Germany, as they have winter breaks, as perfect models for football. Scotland also has a winter break, but they’re not winning the World Cup. Spain is often quoted as the ideal role model, with the push for reserve teams in the football league, but their starting XI is far superior to England. We have to look at the quality of the players at some point, and there are very few English players you could call world class.
Let’s further in depth at the Bundesliga. 18 teams (2 less than the Premier League), and no league cup. La Liga – 20 teams, no league cup. Serie A the same. In fact, out of Europe’s major leagues, only England and France have league cups. The problem isn’t the winter break – it’s the league cup. It’s a competition fans hate, managers hate, players hate – no-one would miss it. For a Premier League team, it’s as much as 6 extra games per season. Dwindling attendances and reserve line-ups mean it’s 6 games we could do without. Yes, it provides a European spot, chance to blood youngsters, but encourage managers to do that in the Premier League, make 6th place a Europa League spot. We don’t need a winter break, get rid of the league cup instead.