The Football Association, Premier League and EFL have announced a new annual Mid-Season Player Break, starting from the 2019/20 season.
The two-week Mid-Season Player Break will take place in February and would be structured to ensure that Premier League matches would still be played every weekend over that period.
Each weekend during the Mid-Season Player Break will feature five Premier League games on the first weekend and five on the following weekend.
To incorporate the Mid-Season Player Break, The FA has agreed to move the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round matches to midweek. In addition, from the start of the 2019/20 season, Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round replays will be removed from the calendar, being replaced with extra time and penalties.
All three divisions within the EFL will remain unchanged, with a full League programme for all 72 EFL clubs taking place on each of the weekends where there is a Mid-Season Player Break.
In January 2018, The FA confirmed that it would more than double the Emirates FA Cup prize fund from the 2018/19 season. This substantial increase on prize money will benefit all participating clubs at every stage of the world’s oldest domestic cup competition.
Martin Glenn, FA Chief Executive, said: “This is a significant moment for English football and one that we believe will greatly benefit both club and country. 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.
“This 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.”
Richard Scudamore, Premier League Executive Chairman, said: “We have been discussing the football calendar with The FA and EFL for several months, including ways we can work together to ease fixture congestion, keep the Premier League action going right through the season and provide a Mid-Season Player Break.
“We are very pleased to have an outcome that will include an exciting first for fans – a full fixture programme split over two weekends with all matches broadcast live in the UK.”
Shaun Harvey, EFL Chief Executive, said: “It has been useful to have these positive discussions over the last few months and, as part of the conversations, we have been able to ensure that our requirements could be incorporated within any changes.
“We very much understand, and support, the requirement and wishes of our colleagues across the game to introduce a Mid-Season Player Break. We hope it will provide the appropriate recovery time for players and have the positive impact on player and team performance that it is designed to deliver.
“At the same time we must acknowledge that fixture congestion remains a challenge and with a 46-game season to complete, plus the play-offs inside a 10-month period, it is currently impractical even if it was desirable for the EFL to introduce a similar break in our competitions. We will look to showcase the Sky Bet EFL during the two week period.”