Premier League agrees to historic winter break

The Premier League’s winter breaks will begin in the 2019-20 season. (AFP pic)

LONDON: England’s Premier League has agreed to introduce a winter break in a historic move to give players a rest during an increasingly crowded season, the Football Association (FA) announced on Friday.

The break, which mirrors those taken in mainland European leagues, will give the Premier League’s teams a weekend off football in February beginning in the 2019-20 campaign.

“This is a significant moment for English football and one that we believe will greatly benefit both club and country,” said FA chief executive Martin Glenn.

“It’s no secret that we have a very congested fixture calendar, and over recent years we have been working with the whole game to find a solution.”

“Today’s announcement proves that football can come together for the good of the game. We have also found a way to give the players a much needed mid-season break, whilst keeping the much-loved Christmas schedule in place. As we head into summer international tournaments in the future, we are sure that this mid-season break will prove to be a valuable addition for our players.”

Richard Scudamore, Premier League executive chairman, added: “We have been discussing the football calendar with the FA and EFL for several months, including ways we can work together to ease fixture congestion, keep the Premier League action going right through the season, and provide a mid-season player break.”

“We are very pleased to have an outcome that will include an exciting first for fans – a full fixture programme split over two weekends with all matches broadcast live in the UK.”

Shaun Harvey, EFL chief executive, said: “It has been useful to have these positive discussions over the last few months and, as part of the conversations, we have been able to ensure that our requirements could be incorporated within any changes.

“We very much understand, and support, the requirement and wishes of our colleagues across the game to introduce a mid-season player break. We hope it will provide the appropriate recovery time for players and have the positive impact on player and team performance that it is designed to deliver.”

“At the same time we must acknowledge that fixture congestion remains a challenge and with a 46-game season to complete, plus the play-offs inside a 10-month period, it is currently impractical even if it was desirable for the EFL to introduce a similar break in our competitions. We will look to showcase the EFL during the two week period.”