London: Sunderland coach Steve Bruce has added his voice to the growing call for a winter break in English football to ease fixture congestion and revitalise the FA Cup.
Matching the comments of his former boss at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, Bruce said that he had been dismayed when his team had been forced to play five games in the space of a fortnight around the turn of the year.
Ferguson has suggested adopting something similar to the German model, in which teams are given a break in January and then resume with their domestic cup competition.
Bruce, who won the FA Cup three times during his spell at United and retains a great affection for the competition, believes a possible revamp and winter break could be combined to mutual benefit.
He told the Black Cats' official website, www.safc.com: "We have to try to arrest something.
"I have had the privilege of going all the way in the FA Cup, and getting to the latter stages is a fantastic thing for any club.
"My thoughts on it are that the competition needs a radical revamp.
"For example, the third round is usually the first Saturday after New Year when everyone is spent up from Christmas, and it becomes a problem for people after they have shelled out the money for their season tickets.
"Maybe we could try to restructure things. I've seen Sir Alex's quotes on a mid-season break - if we're going to be successful as a nation, that has to come into play.
"We are the only nation who doesn't do it. Certainly that would mean a lesser summer, but a mid-season break would be common sense and I agree with Sir Alex.
"You could start off your fixtures again with two FA Cup ties when people haven't seen football for a while. We could kick off again with back-to-back FA Cup ties."