Pre­mier League clubs to have week­end off in Fe­bru­ary from 2019-20

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Leisure -

PRE­MIER LEAGUE clubs will have one week­end off in Fe­bru­ary from the 2019-20 sea­son.

The break will be split over two weeks, with 10 teams sit­ting out the first week­end and 10 the fol­low­ing week­end.

The FA Cup fifth round will be moved to mid­week to ac­com­mo­date the break, with re­plays be­ing scrapped at that stage.

The Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion de­scribed it as “a sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment for English foot­ball” that “will greatly ben­e­fit club and coun­try”.

“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,” said FA chief ex­ec­u­tive Martin Glenn.

All three di­vi­sions of the English Foot­ball League (EFL) will re­main un­changed, with a full pro­gramme of fix­tures tak­ing place on each of the week­ends where there is a break.

Al­most 90 per­cent of play­ers ques­tioned in a re­cent sur­vey by Fif­pro said they wanted a mid-sea­son break, with an av­er­age pref­er­ence of two weeks. The world play­ers’ union sur­veyed 543 play­ers from clubs in some of Europe’s big­gest leagues, in­clud­ing Eng­land, France, Ger­many and Italy.

Nearly half of na­tional team foot­ballers who play in 50 or more matches a sea­son said they felt they played “too many” games.

Win­ter breaks are al­ready fac­tored into sched­ules of the top leagues in Ger­many, France, Italy and Spain, though they all take place be­tween De­cem­ber and Jan­uary, which is the busiest pe­riod for Pre­mier League teams.

Manch­ester City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola said in Jan­uary that the fes­tive sched­ule was “killing” his play­ers.

Ear­lier in the 2017-18 sea­son his Manch­ester United coun­ter­part Jose Mour­inho said the lack of a break was ham­per­ing English clubs’ hopes in the Cham­pi­ons League.

How­ever, for­mer Arse­nal man­ager Arsene Wenger once said he would “cry” if a win­ter break was in­tro­duced. The Gun­ners played six games in 19 days dur­ing the fes­tive pe­riod last sea­son, the French­man’s fi­nal one in charge.

The an­nounce­ment means fur­ther change in the 2019-20 sea­son, which will be the first dur­ing which Ama­zon will show Pre­mier League matches. — BBC Sport

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