O'Neill Wants Winter Break

Last updated : 30 December 2012 By Tott Dixon - Seaham

The Premier League are considering the idea but say there are hurdles to overcome, not least that, under the present calendar, FA Cup replays and the two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final ties would fall within the period being suggested for a break.

Martin O'Neill: “My thoughts have never changed – I’m all for a winter break.

“I think it is very, very important, even psychologically.

“It is our tradition to play on Boxing Day, and then a few days after and then on New Year’s Day and then have the third round of the FA Cup.

“But after that, why not have a couple of weeks’ break? Even it means prolonging the season a little bit in May.

“The English season is a tough old season and it is as physically demanding as any in Europe, so I’m all on for a fortnight’s break in January.

“I actually believe that there’s a period in January where the fans might want a couple of weeks’ respite too!

“It doesn’t have to be forever – two weeks would be fine. Personally, I don’t know how anybody can think anything else other than it would be a good idea.

“I’ve had experience of this before in Scotland with Celtic – I think we had it two of the years that I was up there – and there’s no question that break helped the team in terms of our league campaign and in European competition, too. It also gives the players a focal point at the start of the season.

“They can look forward to reaching the break, and psychologically it gives the players a big lift.

“You ask the boys who are in the firing line at the end of the season in the Champions League – someone like Sir Alex Ferguson – the break would do their side a lot of good.

“Chelsea won the Champions’ League last season but, in general, if you look at the teams in the latter stages of that competition you always feel that the teams who come from leagues where there is a mid-season break look pretty strong.”