While a large chunk of the world celebrates Christmas and sits down to a nice meal and a few treats, spare a thought for the poor Premier League Footballer. This humble millionaire won’t really be able to loosen his belt and let himself go. The reason for this is that there is no winter break in the UK soccer calendar.
There are some benefits to this. December 26th is a bank holiday and there is a full fixture list of games on. A lot of football fans regard the games on this day as part of the Christmas tradition – as important as turkey or getting socks as a present.
For the large number of foreign footballers in England and Scotland, the whole thing is something of an anomaly. In theory you sit down to a big indulgent meal and the next day, you’re expected to run upwards of 9 kilometers over 90 minutes.
On the continent, a winter break is the norm. There is typically a 2 week break from mid-December to the new year. This year in Spain, Malaga‘s manager: Manuel Pellegrini famously promised his players an extra long winter break if they managed to beat Real Madrid. They managed to pull off this shock result and Pellegrini kept his promise – his players have no training for 10 days and return to work in early January.
It has been a bugbear of those seeking to modernise the game in England that there is no Winter break. Sven Goran Eriksson tried to make it part of his contract when he became England manager that the Premier League had one inserted. He failed, but there is still a big push to let the players have a 2 week mid-season break, not least amongst physios and fitness coaches.
Players in the Premier League can play 38 league games, and over another 20 games if they have a good run in the cup competitions and in Europe. Most European leagues only have one cup competition. Removing the League Cup and inserting a winter break would be a good way of ensuring parity, though perhaps it would remove one of the things that makes football in the UK unique.
Mark Cruise is a soccer writer for Rantsports. Follow him on Twitter: @chiefhairyman