Former Premier League referee Howard Webb has said that players would often ask to be booked ahead of Christmas in order to spend time with their families , as the debate on whether Premier League should follow other European leagues and implement a winter break continues.
Several players and managers have complained about the lack of a winter break in the EPL. La Liga and Bundesliga have a month-long break towards the end of December to allow the players to recuperate and celebrate during the festive season, whereas in the Premier League teams play a game almost every third day with Boxing Day set to be the year-end extravaganza.
“A couple of times around about Christmas time in the Premier League players will want the time off. They will say a yellow card might suit my purpose. It's not what fans want to hear really,” Webb, who retired from refereeing in 2014, told BT Sport.
“As long as they don't do something stupid, maybe just a small holding offence or kicking the ball away and they might get what they want, but it's not cricket, is it?” Webb added.
In 2009, former Premier League official Steve Bennett had told an undercover reporter that players would come to him and ask for bookings so as to get Christmas off. That report had triggered angry reactions on social media from English football fans for whom a packed year-end fixture list has become a tradition which they enjoy.