Steve Bruce backs calls for Premier League winter break

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has backed Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's call for a winter break which could help to revitalise the FA Cup.

Bruce made no secret of his dismay at a fixture schedule which saw his team play five games in the space of a fortnight around the turn of the year, and has joined his former manager in backing the kind of lay-off introduced in many European countries.

Ferguson has suggested adopting something similar to the German model, in which teams are given a break in January and then resume with their domestic cup competition.

Bruce won the FA Cup three times during his spell at United and retains a great affection for the competition and, amid suggestions that the format could be changed, he believes a possible revamp and winter break could be combined to mutual benefit.

He told the Black Cats' official website, "We have to try to arrest something.

"I have had the privilege of going all the way in the FA Cup, and getting to the latter stages is a fantastic thing for any club.

"My thoughts on it are that the competition needs a radical revamp.

"For example, the third round is usually the first Saturday after New Year when everyone is spent up from Christmas, and it becomes a problem for people after they have shelled out the money for their season tickets.

"Maybe we could try to restructure things. I've seen Sir Alex's quotes on a mid-season break - if we're going to be successful as a nation, that has to come into play.

"We are the only nation who doesn't do it. Certainly that would mean a lesser summer, but [a mid-season break] would be common sense and I agree with Sir Alex.

"You could start off your fixtures again with two FA Cup ties when people haven't seen football for a while. We could kick off again with back-to-back FA Cup ties."