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Arsene Wenger's Arsenal reign in numbers

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Winter break talks head for deadlock

Negotiations on the introduction of a winter break to the English game appear to be heading for stalemate after Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore indicated that FA Cup replays may have to be scrapped if the break is to be brought in.

The long-mooted debate over a seasonal break was reignited by England coach Roy Hodgson last month.

Hodgson said the break - intended to ensure that players can prepare for international tournaments without having played for ten months solid before them - would benefit the England team.

"It would be lovely to think that, one day, we could all get together and say: 'England is important'," Hodgson said. "You hear people trying to say it's only the Premier League that counts, and the Champions League, and people don't care about international football - but something like 24 million or 25 million watched our [Euro 2012] game against Italy."

However, Scudamore says that although there is a will among the sport's main governing bodies for a winter break to happen, the FA may have to make alterations to its historic cup competition.

He told the Telegraph: "Unless someone is prepared to give something up, it is pretty hard.

"We are not inclined to reduce the number of clubs in the Premier League - if you were running a theatre and had 380 nights that you wanted to sell, why would you throw 60 or 70 of those nights away?

"As for the FA, they don't want to give up replays in the FA Cup, so we all sit down and we all look at each other."

He said Premier League officials "wouldn't have the temerity to alter the FA Cup", but said: "That will be up to the FA. But unless the FA decide they have different priorities, where the England team is more important than something else they own, that might be for them to look at."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report


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