Premier chairmen vote for winter break experiment

Premiership chairmen last night voted in favour of introducing a two-week winter break into the top-flight season. The agreement is subject to detail and will depend on an agreeable fixture schedule. A two-season experiment could begin with a fortnight's break in January of next year.

The vote was taken at a chairmen's dinner last night in London, where Sven Goran Eriksson put forward the case for a break. The England coach, a long-time advocate of the Continental system, believes a mid-season break will benefit the national team.

"I received a warm welcome by the Premier League chairmen and it was a pleasure to be part of such a positive discussion and decision," said Eriksson, who had feared opposition to the proposal because of the already packed schedule.

A Premier League spokesman said: "Sven Goran Eriksson presented a compelling case for a winter break being beneficial to all players and therefore helping team performances in the second half of the season, including that of the England team.

"As a result of this the clubs agreed in principle to the concept of a winter break and have charged the relevant executives from the Premier League, the FA and the Football League with the task of developing a range of options to achieve such an outcome in an already congested calendar."

To accommodate the break, the Premiership season will probably have to start earlier, finish later or involve fewer league matches. The latter option is unpalatable to the chairmen, who want a 20-club Premiership. A late finish might be more acceptable, although that would hardly help England preparations before summer tournaments. Football in early August cannot be ruled out.

The most obvious drawback to any break is the risk of bad weather then causing extra delays to a squeezed programme. Also, some clubs might use it not to rest players but to take them on draining promotional tours to far-flung, if warmer, climes. The rest of English football may benefit, however, from a fortnight's greater exposure as the Premiership suns itself elsewhere.

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