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The Premier League have voted in favour of the principle of introducing a winter break during the football season.

Chairmen from the top flight gave the green light to a two-year experiment whereby there will be a two-week break in January - as long as a balanced fixture schedule can be formulated and all the practical differences can be overcome.

If so, the experiment will begin next season, 2004-05, and continue for the following season before being reviewed.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson was delighted by the vote, as it was the Swede who urged the introduction of a mid-season break because he believes it will benefit the national team.

Eriksson put forward his arguments in favour of the break at a dinner in London where he spoke for an hour to Premier League chairmen and chief executives, who then discussed the proposal at their monthly meeting.

Eriksson said: "I received a warm welcome by the Premier League chairmen and it was a pleasure to be part of such a positive discussion and decision."

A Premier League spokesman said: "We had a very positive meeting today.

"Sven-Goran Eriksson presented a compelling case for a winter break being beneficial to all players and therefore helping team performances in the second half of the season, including that of the England team.

"As a result of this the clubs agreed in principle to the concept of a winter break and have charged the relevant executives from the Premier League, the Football Association and the Football League, with the task of developing a range of options as to what it would take to achieve such an outcome in an already congested calendar."

Eriksson had feared opposition to the proposal because of issues surrounding fixture congestion, which would be made even worse by a two-week mid-season break.

The only way to handle such a change would be start the season sooner, finish it later or reduce the number of matches in between.

There is little prospect of the Premiership being reduced in size, while the Carling Cup still has enough support - and a European place - to continue and FA Cup replays remain set in stone. Therefore finishing the season later might prove to be the chosen option.
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