With a World Cup Year now in progress, Premier League pundits and fans are questioning whether the competition is worth it ahead of the summer festivities. David Kent investigates.
Every four years, we hear the same discussions when it comes to the preparations for a World Cup. ‘Where will our team be based?’ or ‘What players could force a transfer to get more playing time?’
With the majority of the top European football leagues enforcing their annual winter break, Premier League supporters once again find themselves debating with friends, colleagues, and fellow fans about whether the ‘’Best League in the World’’ should follow the likes of Spain’s La Liga, the Italian Serie A and Ligue 1 in France in allowing their players to rest over the festive period.
The majority of this argument takes place between supporters of England. In yet another attempt to gloss over its country’s catastrophe at a World Cup the finger is being pointed at how English players are forced to often play three matches in the week running from Christmas to New Year’s. During the German Bundesliga’s winter break last season, Premier League clubs had nine games. You can see where the fans that call for a pause in the season are coming from.
In the last World Cup in Brazil, almost 15% of players that took part were based at Premier League clubs. England topped the list with 22 of their 23 man squad, Belgium came second with 12, while France had eight. Eventual champions Germany had just four players in their squad that played in the Premier League. Yet, you do not here the Belgian manager, or the French fan base use the Premier League calendar as an excuse.
There is no solution which would please all parties, but the most ignorant and incorrect solution would be to have the competition end earlier. Currently, 380 matches are squeezed into nine months and two days, culminating in May. If the clubs agreed to end the league a month earlier, they’d have to play on average a game more per week to fit the whole season in.
At that point, you would have to imagine international managers would start to complain.
Almost 36% of Premier League players are English. It trumps every other nationality by a mile (Spain are next with a measly 6%) yet there are still world class international players plying their trade in England. The problem does not lie with the Premier League calendar. In reality, it is the FA’s failure to adequately develop and nurture young talent which leads to England’s repeated failures at major tournaments.