The Premier League is considering the elimination of its mid-season break due to concerns about an already crowded football calendar.
This potential change might be implemented during the 2024/2025 season, coinciding with FIFA’s plans for an expanded 32-team Club World Cup in the summer of 2025.
The mid-season break, initially introduced in 2018 to provide players with a much-needed rest period, currently involves a structured two-week hiatus in January. However, the Premier League’s Chief Executive, Richard Masters, has acknowledged that the break’s feasibility is under discussion, given the evolving circumstances.
Masters explained, “It is one of the things we are discussing with the FA [Football Association] and EFL [English Football League]. We want the Premier League, the big cup competitions, and the EFL to flourish and that requires an adjustment.” He also highlighted the upcoming changes to the football calendar, including FIFA’s plans to expand the World Cup with an additional group-stage game. This expansion inevitably demands more calendar space, leading to potential adjustments in domestic league schedules.
The views of players and their unions have gained prominence in this discourse, with their concerns about the already intense workload being expressed more strongly.
The European Leagues and World Leagues Forum have also weighed in, emphasizing the necessity of a platform for domestic leagues to discuss the implications of global decisions on the overall calendar.
Dialogue with UEFA has been ongoing, but Masters pointed out that there has been limited engagement with FIFA.
He noted the World Cup’s expansion and its impact on the schedule, saying, “The World Cup is getting bigger; an additional group stage game is going to be added. Inevitably that’s going to take up more calendar space.”
Interestingly, the start of this season’s English Football League (EFL) saw a notable increase in yellow cards compared to previous seasons. This upswing can be attributed to stricter enforcement of rules related to time-wasting and player behavior. Masters anticipates a similar trend in the Premier League as players and managers adapt to the recent changes. He emphasized that such crackdowns have occurred before and typically require an adjustment period for both officials and participants. Over time, behaviors tend to align with the new standards, leading to a stabilization of the situation.
Masters acknowledged the potential increase in yellow cards, stating, “There will be more yellow cards. I don’t know whether a doubling of yellow cards is a good thing or a bad thing. It certainly sends a message that the officials are true to their word.”
The Premier League’s mid-season break could be abandoned in the coming years due to concerns about the congested football calendar.
Discussions with relevant football authorities are ongoing, with adjustments being considered to accommodate the evolving landscape, including FIFA’s plans for an expanded Club World Cup and changes to the World Cup format. The impact on players, behaviors, and the game’s overall rhythm remains a focal point as football administrators work towards finding a suitable balance.