EXCLUSIVE | By London correspondent Tony Hughes
Premier League managers are leading a fresh push for a two-week winter break by assembling a data dossier that could pave the way for an overhaul of the mid-season programme.
Manchester City crashed out of the Champions League on Wednesday night, with Manuel Pellegrini claiming the heavy Christmas and new year fixture schedule is the reason behind no English club reaching the quarter-final stage of Europe’s top competition.
Well-placed sources have told Football Insider that the League Managers’ Association, the managers’ union, is now compiling figures which will form the basis of a file proving the physical and psychological benefits of a mid-season interval.
The dossier will then be used by the LMA to lobby Premier League and FA chiefs anew for a winter break.
One top-flight manager, believed to be West Ham’s Sam Allardyce, has even taken matters into his own hands by passing on his own data to the LMA supporting a winter break.
“The date supports the theory that sometime in the near future, we have to factor in a winter break if we want our teams to compete on the same level as those from other European countries,” a manager source told Football Insider.
Speaking after City lost 1-0 to Barcelona on Wednesday to lose their last-16 tie 3-1 on aggregate, Pellegrini said: “It is difficult to analyse because the Premier League is strong, with money and very good players.
“We play so many games in December and January and we are not fresh in February. In Spain, Italy and Germany they stop playing. Last year we played nine games in December and nine in January, and that was before we played Barcelona”
The Premier League and FA chiefs have held talks in the past about introducing a mid-season interval to benefit the England team and English clubs playing in European competition.
However, the three key stakeholders in the English game – the Premier League, Football Association and Football League – have yet to solve how a winter break could work with the current fixture list.
With FA Cup replay dates potentially taking fixture space on four midweeks in the second half of the season between the third and sixth rounds, the Premier League believe the ball is in the FA’s court should they wish to introduce a mid-season break to benefit the England team.
Premier League chief Richard Scudamore has said it is “pretty hard for those of us in English football to create that two-week space” as there is no inclination to reduce the number of top-flight clubs, the Football League do not want to lose the League Cup and the FA do not want to give up replays in the FA Cup.