Dima Markova

FA, Premier League and EFL reach historic winter-break agreement

The FA, Premier League and Football League have reached an agreement for an annual two-week break in the beginning of February next season.

According to The Times, the fifth round of the FA Cup will be played in midweek to secure the winter break and all top-tier clubs will have at least 13 days without a game in a bid to help England prepare for Euro 2020 and future World Cups.

The time off will not apply to clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two and there are no planned changes to the schedule of the Carabao Cup semi-finals, which should remain over two legs.

“Moving the fifth round to midweek may mean that the FA has to pay a penalty to overseas broadcasters, but this is not thought to be significant and the Premier League would be asked to make up any shortfall in lost TV revenue,” explain The Times.

“The deal would see the Premier League gain a weekend on which its matches are played, even if there are only half the number of games due to the staggered break. That situation would suit broadcasters who prefer weekend fixtures.

“The first possible benefit of the break for the England team would be at the end of the 2019-20 season, when the European Championship is being held in 12 cities across the continent.

“England already have an advantage in that Wembley Stadium has been chosen for seven matches, including the semi-finals and the final. England will have at least two group games at home and possibly all three. If they get to the final, England could play six out of seven games at Wembley.

“The EFL has also been taking part in the negotiations but the winter break will not apply in the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two. The 46-game schedule for each division means that there is less flexibility.”

As The Times points out, “Germany, Spain, France and Italy all have a mid-season break of between 11 and 22 days.”