Jack McCann discusses the idea of the Premier League having a winter break. However this idea, which is the norm across many European leagues is being hamstrung by the money on offer for festive-period games.
‘’We shouldn’t be playing then, we shouldn’t.”
‘’You can see the players can’t recover in two days.’’
These are Gus Poyet and Louis Van Gaal’s respective comments after their teams played on Sunday in less than or just over 48 hours after playing games on Boxing Day.
The Premier League is the only major league in Europe that continues to play over the Christmas period.
Not only do they attempt to have as much football take place during this period as humanly possible. Every time the FA and the Premier League are questioned as to why there is no break over Christmas – even though there is clear support from players and managers alike for one to be implemented in some way – they respond with something like this.
‘’We are not inclined to reduce the number of clubs in the Premier League – if you were running a theatre and had 380 nights that you wanted to sell, why would you throw 60 or 70 of those nights away?’’
The above response is from Richard Scuadmore, the Chief Executive of the Premier League, who was speaking to the Telegraph back in 2012.
The issue of the winter break being implemented or not has been a thorny issue for years, with annual complaints coming from foreign players, for the most part anyway, who ply their trade in the English top flight.
However, the Premier League and the FA tend to fall back to the reason that there is not enough available wiggle room in an already congested season for a whole section to be reorganised. They would have to reorganise, the 3rd round FA Cup at the start of January and any potential replays that could entail, 2-3 rounds of Premier League action as a minimum during the period.
The Serie A, Bundesliga and La Liga, the three biggest leagues in continental Europe, all have winter breaks ranging from 17 days in La Liga to 39 days in the Bundesliga. The Premier League has 20 teams and the only division of those aforementioned which does not is the Bundesliga which only has two fewer teams.
Admittedly the Premier League does have an extra cup competition, the League Cup, compared to the aforementioned others.
However, this should not be used as an excuse, seeing as many Premier League teams play a severely weakened side or a completely different team compared to the one that they use in the League, so the players who would be affected the most by this being changed or removed would not be the first XI.
It may be harsh to hear but it is a reality of many of the big teams in the Premier League.
By the time the Seria A and La Liga recommence on the 14th and 7th of this month respectively, at least threee rounds of the Premier League will have taken place while the other leagues were on their respective breaks.
Why is the Premier League the only division that defies what appears to most a commonsensical thing to do. The main reason is money. Sky Sports, owned and run by BskyB (its current name), is the dominant force in the present day of TV sports broadcasting and has been since its inception in 1998 and its many reincarnations thereafter.
In the latest bidding war between Sky and competitors like ESPN who are trying to wrench some power away from them, Sky paid the Premier League an eye-watering £1.623 billion to own the rights to five of the six packages that were on offer and will come into force after the current deal expires at the end of next season.
They increased their bid by 5% compared to the current deal and this will bankroll the Premier League and its clubs to the tune of nearly three billion once all the different deals with Sky and the BBC, who paid 173 million for the highlights package already, are fully completed and ratified.
No wonder Richard Scudamore was,
‘’relieved at the outcome and [as] the real significance is the medium-term stability it gives our clubs.’’
3 billion divided between 20 clubs is 150 million each, which isn’t the way it will be divided, but still gives one an idea of why there is no winter break in England when those astronomical numbers are on the table for clubs who make hay while the sun; sorry money, shines.
Jack McCann, Pundit Arena