Winter break snowball gathers big mo
The recent bad weather has given momentum to the case for a winter break in English football (the Scottish case is more compelling). Managers, players and fans who have travelled to postponed matches are all creating a massive snowball of support.
Ipswich manager Roy Keane is the latest manager to support the call: 'The benefits are there in terms of rest and recovery for players and avoiding injury. It is not just the physical break, but they would get a boost mentally at well. They will get a chance to recharge their batteries and, having had a break, supporters would see a better quality of football when they return.'
Keane argues that the month long break taken in Germany helps them in international competitions. In Spain they get a short break over Christmas and the New Year from 20 December until January 2. In Italy they take nearly three weeks.
I am still unconvinced and it was a relief to see in The Times yesterday that the top football economics guru in England, Stefan Szymanski, holds a similar view. The Cass Business School professor points out that Christmas games give clubs a big attendance boost. Of the 36 Boxing Day games played in the 2009-10 season, six generated the highest attendance for the entire campaign. Given that clubs often charge their highest ticket prices for these games, the financial impact is significant.
That does depend on the games going ahead. But Britain has unpredictable weather and snow and ice could strike any time from the end of November until February. If there is going to be a winter break, it should avoid the lucrative Christmas and New Year period. And should it only apply to the Premiership to give Football League and non-league clubs a chance to make some extra money?