Should the EPL have a Winter Break?
October 06, 2015
For years, the powers that be in English football have discussed the merits or otherwise of having a winter break. This is also a keen talking point in Premier League dressing rooms throughout the UK, with former Wigan Athletic midfielder and journeyman Paul Scharner revealing that it is a polarising subject in Britain. While English players are loyal to tradition and the cut and thrust of the top flight, continental stars are keen to see the classic winter break introduced to the English game.
Why Logic Should Overcome Tradition and Emotion
Interestingly, the argument for tradition is the only genuine reason for resisting the winter break in England. This kind of emotion is misplaced in the modern game however, especially as British clubs compete to reclaim their status at the head of the European game. The Premier League is the only top European league that does not have a winter break, for example, despite the fact that it is arguably the most physically demanding and relentless in terms of the pace at which games are played.
The Premier League also embodies the high levels of fitness that exist within the contemporary game, which also means that even the most highly skilled clubs must work harder to break down increasingly competent and tactically astute teams. It is also interesting to note that the EPL has 20 teams that are required to play 38 league games each season, whereas top flight clubs in Germany, France and Holland are only required to play 34. The English league is also the only top division to boast two major cup competitions, meaning that players are placed under considerable strain throughout the course of the season.
Catch 22: How More Games Make a Winter Break Untenable
This creates a unique conundrum for the English FA, as these additional games create a schedule that cannot currently accommodate a four week winter break. With the authorities unwilling to break with tradition and restructure the domestic leagues and cup competitions to reduce the number of games played each season, the British game is left with a ‘Catch 22’ scenario where a winter break is simply untenable. So while there may be a compelling and logical series of arguments that support the idea of a winter break, it will not happen until the future of the game in England is prioritised ahead of its past.