WINTER BREAK IS WELL WORTH A SHOT
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.