MANCHESTER: David Dein has insisted that the Premier League cannot wait for a World Cup-led realignment of the season to introduce a winter break writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Dein, formerly executive vice-chairman of Arsenal and a senior figure in the Football Association and European federation UEFA, has long been in favour of a continental-style pause.
The likelihood of the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar being played in the winter will almost inevitably force clubs, sponsors and television companies to address the challenge of the issue.
That could provide an opportunity to redesign the English elite calendar. But Dein does not want the Premier League to wait that long. He stated his case, at the Soccerex Global Convention, during a discussion about the 2003-04 season when the Gunners’ ‘Invincibles’ were unbeaten in winning the Premier League.
Dein said: “I’m a great advocate for a winter break. I’d love to see it. Other countries have a winter break, players need a break and for the fans, as well, it wouldn’t do any harm. People are nervous of change but we’ve got to do it.
“Maybe start the season a little earlier and end it a little later. There are more injuries in the second half of the season because of the ongoing stress. A winter break would help with that. So there are plenty of statistics to support the case for a winter break.”
Dein thought such a break could be introduced as soon as next season, rather than wait for the ‘Qatar Effect.’
He said: “We’ve got to do it now. If the will is there we will find a way. The television companies have to understand it and come to the party because it’s in the best interest of the players so I see no reason not to introduce a winter break sooner.
“It can’t wait for the World Cup in Qatar. The idea has momentum. If it were voted by the Premier League clubs I think it would go through on the nod today.”
On Monday world federation FIFA hosted a meeting to study all the options for a World Cup timing switch in 2022.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the football community at confederation, member association, league and club level as well as by representatives of players’ union FIFPro, the European Club Associaion, the European Professional Football Leagues and the 2022 World Cup organising committee.