Andy MacKenzie – Why the Premier League should ignore international week

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Spreadex’s Andy MacKenzie bemoans the hiatus on top level league action during the international break and wants to see them carry on regardless.

The international football friendly weekends prompt a collective sigh from footy fans as the Premier League and Championship fixtures take a back-seat for usually fairly drab national affairs.

And it’s the same in the betting industry too as bookies grumble with frustration as bet numbers fall due to the lack of domestic club action.

Certainly at Spreadex, spread betters appear far less interested in international fixtures with football spread betting numbers far higher when the Prem is in full swing compared to weekends of international qualifiers – or worse still, often meaningless friendlies.

So here’s a suggestion for whoever it is that controls these matters; keep the Premier League and Championship running during international breaks just like the Aviva Premiership does for rugby union.

OK, it’s not really likely to happen, but it should. And not just to keep bookmakers happy with higher bet numbers. Here’s my rationale:

Firstly it would make the rich clubs think much more carefully about their recruitment policy and spending during the pre-season (or January transfer window).

They’d perhaps be less likely to nick all the best international players if they knew that for a few weekends each season they’d be without all these star names for some potentially important league matches.

It may lead to a fairer distribution of top players among the Premier League clubs rather than the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs taking all the big names first and could help to make a more competitive and varied Premier League for more fans to enjoy.

This already happens to a degree with African players who have to play during the African Cup of Nations every other year, so would just be taking this one step (or maybe quite a few steps) further.

Secondly it may help the development of English talent in club football.

It’s well documented that foreign imports are stifling the opportunity for home-grown talent in the top English divisions. Well, if clubs were without some of their star players for certain weekends, they would have to dig into their reserves and youth to give some vital experience to other players, many of whom would be English kids in the academies.

Thirdly, it may actually make some very interesting weekends of betting when the traditionally stronger teams would be disadvantaged. E.g. how would Manchester City v Bournemouth be priced up if the Citizens were without most of their starters and had to rely on their reserves and youth team players against another top flight side with only a smaller number of players missing?

It would be a test for the odds compilers and no doubt be relished by punters as they tried to pit their expertise against the wisdom of the bookies’ football traders.

Fourthly, it would end the ongoing arguments relating to players being pulled from international duty through ‘injury’ only to miraculously recover the following week to play for their club side. If the players were taken out of the international squads then they would actually have to miss a club game if the matches were still being played that weekend.

Finally, erm, well the bookies would love all the extra bets they are missing out on each weekend of international action!

I for one would much prefer to watch my side in action, even if it was without some first team regulars, rather than feign interest in the latest tedious England qualifier. I’m sure most punters would be in agreement too…

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