The Premier League will have a two week mid-season player break starting in the 2019/20 season, the FA has announced.
The winter break ensures that Premier League matches will still be played over the period as now, with five top-flight games to be staged on the first weekend of February and five on the following weekend.
To accommodate this, the FA has agreed to move FA Cup fifth-round matches to midweek in order to accommodate the planned break. Also, from the start of the 2019/20 season, fifth-round replays will be removed and replaced with extra-time and penalties.
The Premier League is one of the only divisions in European football not to have a mid season break, and it has been claimed that such an intensive fixture list could hinder England’s chances of success in major tournaments due to the build up of fatigue.
“This is a significant moment for English football and one that we believe will greatly benefit both club and country,” said Martin Glenn, chief executive of the FA.
“It’s no secret that we have a very congested fixture calendar and over recent years we have been working with the whole game to find a solution.
“Today’s announcement proves that football can come together for the good of the game. We have also found a way to give the players a much needed mid-season break, whilst keeping the much-loved Christmas schedule in place.
“As we head into summer international tournaments in the future we are sure that this mid-season break will prove to be a valuable addition for our players.”