WIN­TER BREAK IS WELL WORTH A SHOT

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

LOUIS Van Gaal may have been over­stat­ing the case when he called England’s lack of a win­ter break “evil”, but it’s hard to knock the sen­ti­ment.

In the top flight, pack­ing up for a month is a no-brainer.

But what of the Foot­ball League? The ar­gu­ment against a mid-sea­son break has al­ways been financial – small clubs sur­vive on cash-flow, with games over Christ­mas tra­di­tion­ally at­tract­ing the big­gest gates. Many claim they sim­ply couldn’t sur­vive a month with­out tak­ings.

Yet I would ar­gue that – in the ma­jor­ity of cases – not hav­ing a break punches just as big a hole in the fi­nances. Sev­eral stud­ies have proved that in­juries are less com­mon in coun­tries that head into hi­ber­na­tion. It fol­lows, then, that clubs could af­ford to run with smaller squads and spend less cash on emer­gency loans due to play­ers go­ing lame.

Then there’s the costs of play­ing in win­ter – heat­ing, flood­light­ing, un­der­soil heat­ing. If the miss­ing matches were moved to May, none of that would be re­quired.

What cost, too, of post­pon­ing matches due to weather? In the bras­sic win­ters of 2010 and ’11, many clubs lost a whole month of games, forc­ing them to re­print pro­grammes and pay twice for stew­ards.

I’ve seen enough matches in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary to know that tired limbs and aw­ful pitches add up to a wretched spec­ta­cle. The sta­tus quo also favours the rich­est clubs, who can buy their way out of an in­jury cri­sis.

As for keep­ing those money-spin­ning fes­tive games, that’s fine – have a month off in Jan­uary and al­low man­agers to tackle the trans­fer win­dow in peace.

A win­ter break would cer­tainly level the play­ing field. It might even save a few quid. It is def­i­nitely worth a try.

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