Winter break explained: What you need to know about the move agreed in principle
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 18/04/18 3:16pm
The prospect of a winter break is closer than ever with the Premier League happy in principle to introduce it from the 2019/20 season, Sky Sports understands.
From February 2020, Premier League clubs will have a staggered break that will guarantee all 20 clubs at least 13 days between games.
Here, we take a detailed look at how the proposal works, the possible pitfalls and what effect it can have...
When would the winter break take place?
The notoriously busy festive period will remain intact, don't worry. The annual two-week break in late January/early February will come in from 2020 onwards that would allow all Premier League clubs to have at least 13 days off between games.
Unlike other European countries who have a complete shutdown of their top division in December, the Premier League break would be staggered so there would be no weekend without Premier League football because there would be five games on the first weekend and five on the following weekend.
It remains unclear whether teams in the Football League will be directly involved in the winter break as the need for each team to play 46 matches requires every available weekend to be used.
How have they factored it in?
The agreement was reached after the FA agreed to play the entire FA Cup fifth round in midweek, freeing up a vital weekend in the schedule.
To free up yet more time, there will be no replays in that particular round, with extra time and penalties replacing them.
Will it be going ahead?
It is also understood that the deal has been agreed in principle, but some members of the FA council are unhappy they have not played a bigger part in negotiations, with talks having been carried out at board level. An announcement is expected imminently, however.
Will it help England?
This is a key question. The idea is that this can help England in the very first season when they will expect to go to Euro 2020. Many former England managers have argued for this.
The constant grind of Premier League football, famous for its intensity, is wearing on players, particularly over Christmas. This would allow them some respite after that hectic period.
Winter breaks happen elsewhere. Scotland have a 19-day break. The Bundesliga gets the best part of a month off. France has 24 days, Spain has 18 days and Italy get 16 days.
The argument is that this gives them competitive advantage but current boss Gareth Southgate is more philosophical about it and is not so convinced it will make a huge difference.
So what are the issues?
Firstly, the change is not so dramatic. Everton, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, West Ham and Watford each had breaks of at least 13 days between games this February.
Players will still need to train for the second game so it is not a full fortnight of rest either. Teams on a break from league action would be allowed to travel abroad for training camps.
However, money-making tours in the US or Far East would not be received so well.