Martin Glenn, the chief executive of the Football Association, has said there is a growing desire within English football for a mid-season break but it will be 2019-20 at the earliest before one can be introduced.
Sam Allardyce used his first day as the England manager to reiterate his belief a winter break would improve the team’s lamentable tournament record. “It would help the Premier League and us at international level if we could achieve that,” he said. “January and February is always the most difficult time to get players through.” Allardyce, however, is unlikely to see the benefit during his England tenure.
Glenn said there is no prospect of a winter break during the current Premier League broadcasting deal, which runs from this summer until 2019, but he believes there is broad agreement on the merits of a break among the FA, Premier League and Football League.
“I can’t make it happen,” Glenn said. “To make it happen you need a whole-game solution. You need an agreement. The Football Association is a competition owner, as owner of the FA Cup, and the Premier League and English Football League need to agree too. There is a consensus that it would be a good thing to do. I’ll say no more than that. We can do our bit about fixture congestion and that’s why from the quarter-finals [of the FA Cup this season] we’re not going to replays.
“If we are going to get a winter break, which the FA very much wants, it would be after the current Premier League TV-rights deal is done. There’s more consensus for that than you might think. What scared people about winter breaks in the past is the thought of it being between Boxing Day and new year but it doesn’t have to be then. It can be after the FA Cup third round in mid-January. We can’t do it on our own. We can do it collaboratively with the leagues but I think there is a growing consensus that it should happen.”
Glenn confirmed he, the FA’s technical director Dan Ashworth and the vice-chairman David Gill spoke to four other candidates for the England job – Steve Bruce and Jürgen Klinsmann were among them – but said only Allardyce was offered the position. “He fitted all the criteria we were looking for,” Glenn said. “What we didn’t want was a short-term mercenary to come in to ‘do a job’ for a couple of years.”
He added: “I’m not going to tell you who else we spoke to, that would be inappropriate because it was a confidential process. We had interviews with four other people. We spoke [about the candidates] to former England managers – Glenn Hoddle for one – other successful managers who haven’t run England teams, Harry Redknapp for example, and former players like Gary Lineker and Rio Ferdinand. We also spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson. He said Sam’s single biggest quality was he’s a winner, that he’s got an edge. Winners can sometimes be a bit awkward, that was his phrase. We only offered it to one person, Sam, because he hit all the criteria.”
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