PL to restart season 8 days after Qatar WC final


The Premier League has said there will be just an eight-day break between the 2022 World Cup final and the resumption of English football’s top-flight during the 2022-23 season.

A statement released on Thursday confirmed the adjustments to the schedule for next year arising from the first-ever winter World Cup, awarded to Qatar in a 2010 vote but later moved to November and December due to the country’s extreme summer temperatures.

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Negotiations have continued for some time over how domestic leagues would accommodate the unprecedented change, and the Premier League has sought to absorb the upheaval in one season by starting a week earlier — on Aug. 6, 2022 — and finishing on 28 May 2023.

The Premier League will run for 16 gameweeks until the weekend of Nov. 12-13, after which it will pause for the international tournament.

But, perhaps most significantly, following the World Cup final on Dec. 18, the Premier League will resume just eight days later on Boxing Day.

In previous years, players could expect to be given a minimum of three weeks off to recover, but the timing of next year’s World Cup in the middle of the season has forced a rethink.

The World Cup is due to start on Nov. 21, meaning national teams will have just a week to work with their players before the tournament begins as opposed to the usual three-to-four week period.

It will be seen as a necessary compromise, but the Premier League pushed back on proposals for a biennial World Cup in a subsequent statement released later on Thursday.

FIFA head of global development Arsene Wenger has been advocating for such a move, which could also include re-organising the calendar so there is one qualifying window per year, potentially in October, rather than smaller international breaks at regular intervals throughout the season.

“All 20 Premier League clubs have discussed the post-2024 International Match Calendar reform process and are unanimously opposed to FIFA’s proposal for biennial men’s World Cups, along with any plans involving significantly extended international windows,” it read.

“Clubs raised concerns about the negative impacts FIFA’s current proposals would have on player welfare, the fan experience, pre-season preparations and the quality of competitions.”

Premier League chief xxecutive Richard Masters said: “The Premier League is committed to preventing any radical changes to the post-2024 FIFA International Match Calendar that would adversely affect player welfare and threaten the competitiveness, calendar, structures and traditions of domestic football.

“We are open to reforms and new ideas, but they must enhance the complementary balance between domestic and international football in order to improve the game at all levels.

“This process should also involve meaningful agreements with the leagues that provide the foundations for the game. We will continue to work with supporter groups, players, domestic and international stakeholders to find solutions that are in the best interests of football’s long-term future.”

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