The 2019-20 Premier League season has featured a number of firsts, from VAR to games being shown on Amazon Prime, but one of the more interesting changes has come in the form of the recent February winter break.
Unlike the rest of Europe’s big leagues, England’s top-flight has never had a winter break before; the Premier League’s giants have a packed schedule over Christmas while Serie A, the Bundesliga and LaLiga all shut down during that time.
2019-20, however, has seen each team granted around a week off during February, with the schedule being “split” to satisfy the demands of TV companies. But is this the best that English football could do to help their top teams compete with the best in Europe – not to mention the hopes of the national side in summer tournaments?
The answer is no – and here are 5 ways in which the English football calendar could be improved further.
#1 Scrap the Carabao Cup
Both of English football’s cup competitions have slipped in terms of importance to the Premier League’s clubs over the past couple of decades, mainly since breaking into – and staying in – the Premier League itself became far more financially lucrative than a good run in either of the cups. But while the FA Cup is massively historic and has a ton of tradition and folklore behind it, would anyone really miss the Carabao Cup if it were to vanish?
Not only do its games come thick and fast at the start of the season – when most fans are just hoping for their clubs to gain traction in whichever league they’re a part of – but the majority of England’s top clubs don’t even take it seriously any more, preferring to use it to blood youngsters or help to rehabilitate players returning from long-term injuries.
Take this season’s finalists, for instance; Aston Villa are embroiled in a fight against relegation from the Premier League right now but have also made the Carabao Cup final. Realistically, the club’s power-brokers would much prefer the Villains to lose the cup final and remain in the Premier League – and more importantly, so would the majority of their fans.
What of the lower league clubs entering into the competition? Well, given the packed schedules of the Championship, League One and League Two, they probably wouldn’t mind if it vanished either; an FA Cup run is far more lucrative both in terms of press and finance, anyway.
Essentially, the Carabao Cup has gone from being a decent secondary domestic cup competition to an afterthought at best and a nuisance at worst – scrapping it entirely would free up space in a packed fixture schedule, and do everyone a favour.