The long-standing debate regarding a potential winter break in English football has often divided clubs, players, broadcasters and commercially involved parties on whether such a break would hold a long-term benefit for the English game.
Unlike their European counterparts in prominent divisions such as La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga, Premier League clubs alongside members of the English Football League (EFL) are subjected to a gruelling festive fixture list throughout December and January.
The traditional winter fixture list has become a cornerstone of the English game, but many critics feel that the intensity of the winter games is tiring English internationals, with some pointing to the prioritising of Premier League football as a focal factor in the Three Lions’ inconsistency on the stage of international football.
We take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of potential winter football breaks in England.
Against a winter break
Why should English footballers have time off work at a time of year where commercial interest in festive televised games is a key driver of the vast incomes that many top-flight footballers are the recipients of?
No other professions bar those in the educational sector would typically see an extended break throughout December, and it is arguable that key players in the broadcasting sector such as Sky and BT would be strongly against breaking in their coverage at a time where broadcasting interest is likely to be at an annual high.
Especially given the vast sums that these key players such as Sky and BT are lavishing on Premier League and EFL broadcasting rights, the decision must ultimately lie with them. The festive fixtures are also a particular highlight for English football fans throughout the pyramid, with traditional game-days such as Boxing Day and News Year’s Day.
At a time where fans are being financially fleeced and increasingly being seen as solely consumers, taking away the festive fixtures would be damaging for not only broadcasters, but for the fans who consistently support their sides throughout the season.
For a winter break
There can be no questioning that a winter break would improve the prospects of Gareth Southgate’s England squad, with a mid-season rest likely to revitalise players ahead of a major international tournament.
Such a break would also provide less-established clubs with smaller squads with a chance to truly compete. Injuries are prevalent during the festive schedule, and smaller, often newly-promoted clubs can struggle with the strain that is placed on their squads.
This could also arguably increase the quality of football in the second half of the campaign owing to less fatigue, providing broadcasters with a higher quality product for their viewers and subscribers.
This combination of improving England’s international prospects – and the fitness of other international players plying their trade in England – alongside providing a fairer platform for smaller sides is a compelling argument for the winter break, yet the higher powers within the commercial world of football are unlikely to agree with such a notion.