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Opinion

Along with 4 international break fortnights there is now a 5th guaranteed two week Premier League break

3 weeks ago
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Creeping into the Premier League (and all other major European leagues) has been an ever increasing number of international breaks.

At this moment in time we are up to four different fortnights during this current season, where there is absolutely no club football.

We had one in September, one in October and are just emerging from one now in November.

March 2020 will see the fourth ‘proper’ football free fortnight.

In essence, what this means is that unless you are playing in European competitions and/or progressing in the domestic cups, you are left with long periods of no club football.

Between playing Watford at home on 31 August 2019 and Aston Villa away on 25 November 2019, Newcastle will have played only eight matches in the intervening 85 days.

I have been a bit slow on the uptake because I have just realised/remembered that this season we now have a fifth guaranteed two week break this season.

Billed as a (belated) festive break, it is in reality just something to help the elite/privileged clubs with their busy early post new year period.

On the weekends of Saturday 8 February 2020 and Saturday 15 February 2020, half the clubs will play one weekend and the other half on the other, thus giving the players of all clubs a two week break at that time.

What in essence this means for a club like Newcastle, if as usual (under Mike Ashley) we bow out of the FA Cup by the fourth round at the latest, NUFC could have only four guaranteed matches in the space of 53 days.

Newcastle are due to play Arsenal away on either the weekend of Saturday 8 Feb or Saturday 15 Feb. If they play on the first weekend then between then (8 Feb) and the scheduled away game at Bournemouth on Saturday 4 April, you then have 53 days in between and possibly only as few as four games in those 53 days.

There is scheduled to be five Premier League matches in those 53 days BUT on the 21 March 2020 NUFC are set to play Aston Villa at home and that is also FA Cup sixth round day, so the Villa game could end up postponed.

The squeeze gets ever worse on fans of an unambitious club such as Newcastle United, we already see our games moved for TV more than any club outside the big/successful six.

I look ahead to the ridiculous 2022/23 Premier League season and just imagine how horrendous that is going to be, that includes the joke that is the Qatar World Cup which runs from 21 November 2022 to 18 December 2022.

The fallout from that will surely not be good for the likes of Newcastle fans, assuming NUFC are still in the Premier League, especially as they will be wanting to not extend the Premier League season too far, as qualification for the 2024 Euros will need to get going ASAP.

Do you ever get the feeling that all of this is the tail wagging the dog…?

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