By MATT FORTUNE
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has suggested the Premier League season follow the template of the MLS and Chinese Super League by beginning in January.
The Frenchman believes English top flight clubs are at a disadvantage in European competition due to their busy schedule, especially over the mid-winter months, when others – including Germany and Spain – enjoy a break from the game.
Calls for a winter break in England are nothing new, but Wenger, who managed in a similar calendar in Japan before his move to north London, is likely to spark a fresh a debate with his latest suggestion.
He said: ‘I understand it looks completely strange as people have been educated the current way but I moved to Japan and the season was in January to November. We started training in January and after a while it was completely normal.
‘The period of rest would be the same. It wouldn’t change the number of games. You would not be confronted with these situations when players are playing in two different championships. You would play during the summer period in the best period for football to be played.’
Wenger’s comments come in a week when two of the Premier League’s top four clubs suffered damaging defeats in the Champions League, with Manchester City eliminated and Chelsea likely to suffer the same fate.
Arsenal, though, secured a 13th successive season in the knockout stages of Europe’s premier competition.
But the 63-year-old doesn’t believe it is a sign of decrease in quality.
Wenger added: ‘I don’t think we are getting worse. Maybe we have less room, less margin, than we had before when it was just a question of when we would qualify.
‘Now German football has come up, Spanish football is there every year and some French clubs have come back like Paris Saint-Germain.
‘It looks less obvious for us. But I still think England is the best league, because there’s something more here. It’s not only linked with what you see on the pitch but how you experience football. And when I speak to the players they say exactly the same.’
Wenger also took the opportunity to have a small dig at rivals Manchester City about their financial model.
He added: ‘If you look at how many teams have done that in Europe, it is very, very, very few. That shows it is not easy, if nobody else has done it.
‘It is a massive satisfaction because I am so many times with my back to the wall, accused of not spending fortunes.
‘To show that we can do it, in the way we do it, with the club in a good financial situation and with the players coming from our youth development, I think it is important for the game as well.’