According to reports, Premier League clubs are discussing a two-week winter break in January to address the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. There are already fears that the pandemic could cause further fixture congestion unless addressed immediately.
The Premier League’s busy festive period has set the competition apart from the rest of the European football leagues for ages. While football players in other leagues around the continent enjoy a winter break, the Premier League prefer to cramp in back-to-back games to mark a blockbuster end to the year.
However, last season, the first winter break in the Premier League era was introduced in February. This season too, the league is considering the option of a winter break but for an entirely different reason – COVID-19.
Premier League gets hit by new COVID-19 cases
On Monday, Manchester City’s game against Everton in the Premier League was postponed after the pandemic hit the City squad. Sheffield United have also reported multiple positive cases among its staff, but their game against Burnley on Tuesday was allowed to proceed.
However, it has brought to the fore a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in the Premier League.
Interestingly, 18 people tested positive in the latest round of testing, which was the highest since the testing process was initiated in August this year. Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is currently isolating after a family member tested positive; he is set to miss the game against West Ham United.
As a preventive measure, Premier League chairmen are considering the option of a two-week break next month to fight the spread of the pandemic. The government will also reconsider its tier restrictions and is expected to oversee discussions about the best way forward for the Premier League.
Fresh COVID-19 cases have also impacted the lower leagues in the country, and the resulting chaos could also impact the FA Cup games due in January.
This season has already been affected due to the delayed end to the last one, so a mid-season break in the Premier League could cause further fixture congestion. That could also impact player preparations ahead of the European Championships next summer.
Some clubs like Manchester United already have games in hand that have to be rescheduled, so a winter break could introduce new problems of its own. However, there’s no denying that the Premier League will prioritise player safety when a final decision is taken on the matter.Published 30 Dec 2020, 00:54 IST