THE Premier League have confirmed that next season will kick off on 15 Aug and finish on 9 May - five weeks before the start of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
The season will include a double-header on the Saturday and Monday of the August Bank Holiday for the first time in order to give Fabio Capello an extra week to prepare England for the tournament.
Under Fifa rules, domestic leagues have to end four weeks before the start of the World Cup Finals but the Premier League have agreed to provide an extra week to help England's preparations.
Next season's fixtures will be released no later than 16 Jun, the Premier League have said.
The decision was taken at last week's meeting of Premier League clubs and although many chairmen were not happy about the August double-header, it was deemed preferable to the other option which was starting the season on 8 Aug instead of 15 Aug.
Most chairmen preferred to have a longer pre-season and start the new campaign after the international friendly date on 12 Aug, when England play Holland in Amsterdam.
The FA first negotiated an extra week for the 2006 World Cup after the pleadings of then-manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
-- PA Sport.
This article was first published in The New Paper on Feb 15, 2009.