The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY -

FOR­MER Arse­nal chair­man David Dein has again called for the Premier League to take a win­ter break.

“The play­ers have got to have a break,” he said. “They de­serve it. It is a long, hard sea­son. More in­juries oc­cur in the sec­ond half of the sea­son than the first half.

“We have to in­tro­duce that and I’m hop­ing that will be one of the points that come out of the FA’s re­port on how to im­prove the Eng­land team.”

Ob­vi­ous ben­e­fits to the Eng­land team aside, a topflight hia­tus would be great news for the Foot­ball League.

Weather per­mit­ting, most Cham­pi­onship clubs play eight or nine games from mid-De­cem­ber to mid-Jan­uary.

That would mean them pro­vid­ing the pin­na­cle of English foot­ball for almost a quar­ter of the sea­son. With noth­ing else to show, Sky would be fall­ing over them­selves to shown matches on TV, hand­ing over hun­dreds of thou­sands in the process.

And pun­ters des­per­ate to es­cape scream­ing kids and rel­a­tives would surely find their Box­ing Day fix at Bury or Brent­ford in­stead of Man United or Chelsea.

SEPP BLAT­TER has an­nounced that man­agers will soon be given pow­ers to chal­lenge a ref­eree’s decision.

It is a rare mo­ment of lu­cid­ity from the ha­bit­u­ally inane FIFA chief, yet it re­mains an im­per­fect so­lu­tion.

For­ma­tive plans sug­gest man­agers will be granted at least one TV re­fer­ral per half, but only when the game comes to a stop. The idea is that ma­jor in­jus­tices, such as a hand­balled goal or er­ro­neous red card, will be elim­i­nated.

It will, how­ever, do noth­ing to com­bat more in­sid­i­ous of­fences like div­ing or grap­pling in the box.

The so­lu­tion re­mains – and will al­ways be – to have a fourth (or, in fact, fifth) of­fi­cial in a TV booth watch­ing the match on TV, with ac­cess to split-sec­ond re­plays and a ra­dio link to the man in black.

If the ref blows, he can then dou­ble check with his mate. If he plays on, the man up­stairs can say ‘Hey, you need to call that back’.

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