As the football season enters its busiest time of year once again murmurings of the age old debate rear their heads. Christmas break, or no Christmas break? The Premier League’s lack of a break makes it an anomaly. The Bundesliga has a month off, La Liga has two weeks and Serie A has just under three. So why does the English Premier League, arguably the most famous and financially prosperous league in the world, play through the Christmas period?
Firstly, it’s traditional. The Boxing Day and New Year’s Day clashes are a staple of the English game. Arsene Wenger claimed he “would cry” if the Christmas games were scrapped. He attests “it’s part of English tradition and English football.” There is also the problem of fitting in FA Cup games, League Cup games and all the Premier League fixtures. Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, explained that “unless someone is willing to give something up, it is pretty hard.” In a bid to ease congestion in the English league the FA have recently scrapped FA Cup quarter-final replays. However, as the quarter-finals take place in March, the move is still a long way from allowing a gap in the Christmas schedule. So why would we want a winter break? Sam Allardyce has consistently advocated a break, claiming that the league’s congested schedule has a knock-on effect on England’s international performances. He claimed that “the demand physically and mentally on the players is enormous. A break would help the players and would help the national team.”
The Premier League would also likely be revitalised by a midseason break. Statistically, in the last ten years of the League, Arsenal have famously raked in their lowest average points per game in November, dropping from over two points a game to 1.5. But the winter blues don’t just affect Arsenal. Chelsea similarly dip below a fairly consistent two point average in the months of November and December. The month of January sees Tottenham drop from an average of nearly two points a game to under 1.5.
If these stats are anything to go by, the big clubs see a consistent drop in points during the Christmas period, likely due to the packed schedule. Players become physically exhausted and become susceptible to injury, which in turn affects the latter half of the season and players are left sidelined. A winter break would allow the players to rest and recuperate in order to remain fit throughout the season.
One of the suggestions is to have a two-week break following the third round of the FA cup, that takes place on the weekend of the 7th January, and possibly extending the Premier League campaign. This would allow for the traditional December games to take place as usual whilst allowing the players to have a break before the second half of the season kicks off. However, for the time being the Christmas break remains a pipe dream. Martin Glenn, the chief executive of the FA explained it could only be considered “after the current Premier League TV-rights deal is done”, which runs until 2019, meaning a possible winter break will not happen until the 2019/20 season at the earliest.