Following years of discussion, the Premier League and FA have together agreed upon a series of changes that will allow for a two-week winter break in the future.
The FA and Premier League announced a two-week winter break in February, starting in the 2019-2020 season that will still see Premier League games played in that span, with five on the first weekend and five on the second, allowing teams to have their break after their matches.
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It doesn’t match the length of winter breaks in Spain, Germany and Italy but it also doesn’t interfere with England’s traditional busy holiday program, which sees teams play on Boxing Day and around New Years in addition to regular weekend fixtures.
As part of the agreement, the FA has agreed to move the fifth round of the FA Cup to midweek while scrapping replays from the fifth round on. Replays will still be around for the earlier rounds, where some of the smaller clubs could earn a return fixture against a giant, earning a massive cash windfall from television and gate receipts.
“This is a significant moment for English football and one that we believe will greatly benefit both club and country,” Martin Glenn, FA chief executive, said in a statement. “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.
“Today’s announcement proves that football can come together for the good of the game. We have also found a way to give the players a much-needed mid-season break, whilst keeping the much-loved Christmas schedule in place.
“As we head into summer international tournaments in the future we are sure that this mid-season break will prove to be a valuable addition for our players.”
The Premier League has been in serious discussions over the past few years on how to introduce a winter break, as both foreign managers in the Premier League and fans have complained about the league’s lack of quality come late in the season, when players are gassed from playing 50 or more games, including cups and friendly matches.
There’s hope now that this two-week break will help some players heal, get off their feet for a few days, and maybe begin to recover enough so that they still have gas left in the tank for a summer tournament.
With this starting for the 2019-2020 season, we could see if it has an effect on the 2020 European Championship. Ironically, the next World Cup after this year won’t be a summer World Cup, so European-based players should actually be fit and ready to go for a tournament beginning in November.