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, www.safc.com: "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."

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