Arsene Wenger Endorses Spring-to-Fall Football

Two of the more controversial things in the soccer world combined yesterday for an early Christmas present to both soccer bloggers and Don Garber.

In an interview with Arsenal Magazine (and reported on The Telegraph website), Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger complained about fixture back-up due to inclement weather and how it impacts his squad (and other clubs too of course).  For those who don’t follow EPL, a number of matches were canceled last weekend due to snow and a bunch more may be canceled on the popular Boxing Day weekend.  While most EPL pitches are heated, many of the matches are canceled over concerns for fan safety.

The EPL has built-in cancellation dates for these matches, but Wenger is concerned that clubs (like Arsenal) who play in multiple tournaments will face a backlog of matches later in the season, putting title-competing clubs at a disadvantage to teams who only compete in one league or competition.  In response to a question about a possible winter World Cup in 2022, he not only said it would not be a bad idea, but the world soccer calendar should change because of it:

“That [the heat in Qatar] is a big problem.  They have spoken about maybe having the World Cup in the winter. Why not? I’m not against that at all. But I think overall, in the whole world, football should be played between February and November, and then you could organise (sic) it for winter.”
Now the Wenger schedule would be different than the current MLS schedule - matches would begin in February and players would have a long summer break to recuperate from fixture congestion.  But it is not a coincidence that this was the lead story on the MLS website this morning.  I suspect that MLS officials will continue to highlight this kind of support for a spring-to-fall schedule as the possibility of a January 2022 World Cup is considered, and Wenger will not be the only major figure to suggest a schedule change.

Does Arsene Wenger’s support for a February-to-November schedule change your opinion on spring-to-fall scheduling?

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23 Responses to Arsene Wenger Endorses Spring-to-Fall Football

  1. Robert says:

    The EPL needs to take a winter break and ditch the Carling Cup. League Cup + FA Cup is just too many games.

  2. Charles says:

    I still find it crazy that European soccer leagues have the schedules they do. They don’t play during the best weather months, instead playing during the worst and the schedule goes on for way, way too long. They should play through the Summer and cut down on the number of fixtures to fit in to a shorter time span.

    • Joe says:

      Cutting down the number of EPL fixtures is impossible - every team plays every other team twice. Unless you want to cut down the number of teams in the league, there’s nothing else that can be done.

    • Sergio Hernandez says:

      Joe is right.

      And with MLS expanding to nearly as many teams as EPL in the next couple of years (19 compared to 20) and also seemingly switching to a balance schedule, the amount of fixtures will be the same.

    • Robert says:

      It’s not just European soccer leagues that play during these months its most of the world. However, most of the “big leagues” take a winter break. Mexico, who crushes MLS just finished its opening tourny:)

      MLS is expanding its schedule this year and will continue to expand as they add more teams. MLS, like EPL, has too many fixtures to fit into a small window. Open Cup, MLS Cup, Superliga, Champions League, Friendlies, All-Star, Etc. MLS is going to have to trim the fat and place importance on correct fixtures.

  3. Charles says:

    That was an imposture Charles up above. I am the original !

    I think the Euro leagues should have the winter schedule where possible. Soccer played in the heat is a huge dissadvantage. Look at running times in heat…much slower.

    However, MLS in the winter is just dumb. Just like in Sweden.

  4. Dan says:

    A winter world cup would be a HUGE advantage for the USA, banking on most of our squad is MLS based tho :S

    • Charles says:

      That is a pretty big assumption based on recent history.
      I do think that will change more by 2022, whether or not that is significant is TBD.

  5. Dave C says:

    I’ve often thought the English football season (at youth & amateur levels at least) should take place over the warm months instead of the winter, but for different reasons. I think it would be better for development of players - I remember as a kid wading through inch-deep mud turning your feet to lumps of clay, trying to hack the ball out of deep ruts, crazy slide tackles. Kids getting cold and wet. I think it would be better all round to just play in the good weather - it might encourage/enable kids to play decent football. It’s not like England gets too hot in the summer anyway.

  6. Charles says:

    Completely off topic, but I feel like I have been sold a bill of goods by the Euridiots.

    I ran across this:
    The average attendance in the Championship league ( Div 2 ) in England is 17,141…..aka about the same as MLS.
    Plus 2 teams in EPL do not draw as good, as MLS teams average.

    Aside from the fact that I used ‘good’ instead of the proper ‘well’, good really isn’t the word for this, pathetic is more like it.
    Why did people pushing for the second Div with pro/rel in the US fail to mention this ?
    Hiding something ?

    • Joe says:

      I agree with you a lot of the time, but here I think you’re missing the mark. Average attendance is a very small piece of the puzzle when looked at next to TV ratings. For all the idiotic bluster we see from the “Euridiots” on this site, they do have a point when they mention how popular the EPL is around the world. 20,000 fans in the seats pales in comparison to the millions watching and following in hudreds of countries around the world. MLS is nowhere near that level. Yet.

      • Charles says:

        Well you are correct of course. IF you are a fan in the US you go to the game, it is not expensive, maybe the commute is too long in some areas, but there are not many left at home to watch on TV.

        But the numbers for many of those Div 2 England teams are VERY small. I have a hard time believing that there are ton watching those teams on TV.

        Man U, Chelsea, etc sure. I would be interested in how many really watch non champion contender teams. In England, maybe that works. Not like Manchester is very far from the rest of the country, so they watch.

        Gaffer and Robert, you really think if those teams make the first division they still draw those pathetic numbers ? I am asking.
        But you do see why US crushes England very quickly when soccer becomes a hit like in Seattle.

        ps. Seattle metro area has about 3.5 million people to draw Sounders fans from.
        just another reason why it is crazy to put teams/cities like that in the minor leagues.

        • Kevin Sutton says:

          Lesser attendances at FA games shouldn’t be unexpected. The sheer number of clubs and the smaller size of stadia limit attendance for most clubs that aren’t regularly in the premier league. There aren’t many cities in England that have a population of a million or more, unlike the USA where all(?) of the MLS soccer teams are located in such cities. I think the case is similar for other European leagues.

        • Dave C says:

          Charles, what point are you trying to make?

          Are we supposed to be impressed that MLS teams draw comparable figures to 2nd Div English teams? eg that Chicago Fire (playing at the highest domestic level, in the 3rd biggest city in the country, with no nearby local competition) draws a similar attendance to Burnley (a town of 70k people in the 2nd div, in the shadow of Man U, Man C, Blackburn, Bolton, Wigan, Leeds etc etc).

          So what that the two smallest teams in the EPL (again, playing in small towns surrounded by more established neighbors) draw a smaller crowd than the MLS average?

          Seriously, I assume your post was supposed to be some kind of criticism of those who suggest there should be a second tier in the US, or maybe it was some kind of boast that the MLS is doing so well…but it could be taken as the opposite, so I’m kind of confused.

          And yes, when teams get promoted their attendances generally go up, for obvious reasons.

          I don’t understand your point about TV audiences for non-contender teams, or the proximity of Manchester to the rest of the country.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Charles, England is a much smaller country than the United States and many of those grounds in the Championship are either in towns where the population is very small, or where there are a few teams in the same city or area of the country.

      If you took the attendances in the Championship and compared that to the population of where the club’s city, it would be far more impressive than MLS attendances in cities around the United States and Canada.

      The Gaffer

      • Robert says:


        What is your point? You seem to be picking a fight for whatever reason now. Ipswich Town FC has a 30k stadium but the borough of Ipswich has an estimated population of 128,000. 23% of the town fills that stadium. Sounders Franchise Club has a capped capacity of 36,000 compared to a population roughly around 600,000 which is 6% of population.

  7. ddtigers says:

    MLS should keep the present schedule. This is not Europe but the States. We have the big three contend with. We have to be realistic with the amount of Sports on offer in the USA. There is no need to go up against the NFL and NBA plus College Football and College Basketball if you can help it. The Weather? To me it is better to play in the spring/summer than fall/winter. Yes I love European football, but that schedule works for them ours works for us soccer fans in the States.

    • CoconutMonkey says:

      I second that.

      Granted, I think a fall/late summer-spring schedule is doable with a long enough winter break (e.g. 8 weeks) and a little schedule tweaking (play in warmer cities in Dec & Feb, play in cooler cities Aug & Apr). Hell, an apertura and clausura style season might even be easier. What I can’t see, however, is how flipping the schedule would be worth it.

  8. The original Tom says:

    Here, here! While FIFA should obviously set dates for International games, I don’t see why they have to manage when domestic leagues play. It is just silly to play in the winter in the USA. Summer football in England doesn’t have weather issues, but they have been playing in the winter for 150 years. We had snow in Minnesota last weekend, nobody talked about moving the MLS season to spring.

    A winter World Cup is interesting, but that should have been part of the original bid.

    I like that the MLS is on a different schedule from the EPL. I enjoy that as a fan, one begins and is fresh when the other mid season, and end of season excitement is at different times. Good for fans of both.

  9. Lenny says:

    I love the MLS schedule as it means soccer year-round! EPL + MLS + Int’l Schedule = very few weeks without footy.

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