PREMIER LEAGUE clubs will be barred from arranging lucrative friendlies around the globe when their mid-season breaks are revealed today.
The fixtures for the new season are announced at 9am on Thursday – and for the first time teams in the top flight will be handed a week off during the season.
One matchweek, likely to be early February, will be split in half with five being contested over one weekend and the remaining five taking place a week later.
That allows every Premier League side the freedom to take a step off the treadmill of fixtures at that time of year, which also includes FA Cup ties and upcoming European games.
Yet that has also raised to potential for some of the biggest clubs to arrange to take part in prestige friendlies with other sides in overseas places as part of a commercial exercise.
But the marketing and commercial directors at Premier League sides are likely to be disappointed – because individual clubs do not have the final say on whether a friendly can be played.
Instead, the Football Association have the authority to sanction or deny any requests to play overseas.
And given that the FA were so strongly behind the midweek break in the first place, they will take a dim view of any requests dropping in their inbox over the next few months.
Under current regulations, every English club has to request permission from the FA for every trip they make overseas – from pre-season tours down to warm-weather training.
This allows the governing body to ensure they are aware of all activity taking place overseas, and would inform other governing bodies in the countries visited.
There is a full expectation several clubs will take advantage of the break to jet off to train in the sun, and there are unlikely to be any problems with those requests.
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Practice matches, if managers want to keep their squad ticking over, would also be considered.
But a request for a friendly against someone like Real Madrid being staged in China is unlikely to go down well at the FA.
The exact breakdown of what games will be played on each weekend will not be known when the fixtures are published – they will be decided at a later date with BT Sport owning rights to screen five of them live.