Winter break 'next year' says Wenger

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The Independent Football

A winter break will be introduced into English football as early as next season, according to the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger. He said last night: "I think that is what we are going towards... and I think we'll have a winter break next year."

The move, which has been championed by the England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, would bring the Premiership into line with other European nations, although it has run into severe opposition in the past from clubs worried about revenues. It is unlikely to be extended to the Football League, who may feel they would profit from the extra exposure.

Wenger said: "I feel that Sven is completely determined to get a winter break, which I can understand as it is linked to success for the national team at tournaments and the expectation level is higher now in England. They've won in rugby and people are saying, why can't we do it in football?"

Eriksson first proposed the break after the last World Cup, when he said players were simply too tired to compete. The plan is supported by David Dein, the Arsenal vice-chairman and vice-chairman of the Football Association; Gérard Houllier, the Liverpool manager; and Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association.

The preferred option is a three-week break in January. Wenger cautioned against introducing it sooner. "I think we can find an agreement between a respect for tradition and introducing a break somewhere," he said. "But even for those who are promoting it, it would be a mistake to have it over Christmas."

Wenger said that clubs needed the extra income at that time of year, and other countries all watched English football then. "What better promotion can you have?" he said.

The plan would need agreement from managers at their twice-yearly Premier League technical meeting, and would then go to the clubs for formal approval.

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