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Arsene Wenger advocates change in EPL calendar

Nov 23, 2012, 5:16 PM EDT

Arsenal's manager Wenger reacts during their Champions League last 16 second leg soccer match against AC Milan at the Emirates Stadium in London

Now this is a revolutionary new hook on the old debate about placement of the domestic soccer calendar.

Major League Soccer has a spring-summer-fall format, one that roughly mimics baseball. In shortest form we’d call it a “summer sport.”

And that runs counter to so many of the world’s associations. (Not all of them, by the way, although such an inconvenient truth frequently gets set aside in this long-running discussion.) More than a few voices believe that domestic soccer will never assume its rightful place in the world – whatever that is – until MLS and the larger professional soccer enterprise here adopts the FIFA calendar. That would make soccer a “winter sport” here, more aligned with, say, the NBA.

(I have long been on the record as saying that is a very bad idea. MLS and professional soccer are right where they should be for now. Perhaps we can meet about this again in 10-20 years. But for the time being, adopting a “winter schedule” would be just plain silly for all kinds of reasons.)

The narrative from one side has always said the United States needs to emulate Europe in this matter.

Well look who has just up and said this highly controversial thing, that the venerable English Premier League – always a leader, after all, not just some compliant follower – should emulate the American model!

Highly successful Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger now advocates starting the season in January and finishing in November, more like MLS or the Chinese Super League. And ain’t that a kick in the head?

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.”

It’s a pretty radical notion, but one Wenger believes would assist in breaking up the fixture congestion that becomes more of a sticky wicket every year. It’s topical in England right now because two prominent clubs, reigning European champion Chelsea and reigning EPL champ Manchester City are struggling in Champions League.

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