So there you have it, Newcastle United fans will now be ‘enjoying’ a 21 days Spring break.
No football for fully three weeks.
After their Tuesday night victory over Rochdale, Tottenham made an official announcement that the Newcastle game on Friday 16 March was now postponed, instead they will be at Swansea on Saturday 17 March for a 6th round FA Cup game.
As I wrote earlier this week (see below), the introduction of a Winter break in the Premier League season is purely about the elite teams.
Pandering to the handful of clubs at the top, who fancy a 13 day break for their players before the next stage of the Champions League kicks in.
As for Newcastle United, they are due to be at Liverpool this Saturday (3 March) and then home to Southampton the following weekend (10 March) with now three weeks of no football until Huddersfield at home on 31 March.
This is to also accommodate a two week international break.
As you never know when bad weather can hit in the UK, you could end up having the 13 day Winter (February) break and then if you have weather like we are experiencing now, into March, you could even seen Premier League games postponed, before then heading into the international break that is usually scheduled for March.
It doesn’t exactly make me wish Newcastle were back in the Championship…but at least you get regular football/a lot of games.
From 25 February to 30 March last season, Newcastle had six Championship matches, now we are set for just two Premier League ones in the same time period (everything crossed that the weather doesn’t interfere with Liverpool on Saturday).
As for that Tottenham match, if Spurs continue their involvement in the Champions League and FA Cup, there are very few options to fit in a midweek match until very late on in the season, not an ideal scenario for Rafa Benitez if points are still needed then for safety.
To put the 21 day break with no Newcastle games into perspective, there is only a 32 day gap between the Premier League season ending and the World Cup finals kicking off (a 19 day gap from when the Champions League final takes place on 26 May).
The Mag – 27 February 2018:
A very interesting exclusive on Tuesday morning, revealing that the long talked about mid-season winter break will at last arrive in the Premier League.
The Times exclusive though, says that this won’t apply to the Championship and Leagues One and Two, as their 46 game league seasons means there is no room to accommodate it.
The newspaper reports that the winter break will start as from the 2019/20 season and that under the plan all Premier League clubs will end up with a guaranteed 13 day break without a game.
This will be accommodated by playing the FA Cup fifth round games all in midweek in early February and without replays
The Times say that the break would be staggered, with five Premier League matches taking place one weekend and five on another.
No doubt this will be to maximise the number of Live TV matches that can be shown and it was always a guarantee that it would be the FA Cup that would be further diminished to help make room for any winter break.
Newcastle fans will hardy notice the difference…
In the entire time Mike Ashley has owned the club, Newcastle have never reached the fifth round of the FA Cup, so a winter break has become the norm.
Rafa, the players and fans have just ‘enjoyed’ a 13 day winter break between the Man Utd and Bournemouth matches, then are set to enjoy a 21 day spring one.
If Spurs beat Rochdale in their FA Cup replay then after the home match with Southampton on Saturday 10 March, the next game will almost certainly not be until Huddersfield at home on Saturday 31 March. An international break and Spurs having to cancel the Friday 16 March Wembley fixture against Newcastle will ensure that.
The whole idea of the winter break is surely aimed almost entirely at pleasing the most powerful elite clubs, who tend to have Champions League matches and later rounds of the FA Cup to play.
The newspaper reports also claims that the England team will benefit from the break, with players having had a mid-season rest before Euro 2020 and future World Cups.
Most fans have England very low on their priorities and whatever measures they take that are supposed to help the national team never seem to see any visible signs of improvement. Just as having longer breaks away together hasn’t improved matters, a winter break isn’t going to magically make an inferior set of England players better than their rivals.
The winter break would bring the Premier League into line with all the other major European leagues, as Germany, Spain, France and Italy already have a mid-season break of between 11 and 22 days.
The EFL have dug their heels in though when it comes to the League Cup, insisting that this stays as a two-legged tie when reaching the semi-finals.