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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 18:58 GMT
Top clubs consider overseas games
The English Premier League is considering the idea of staging some matches around the rest of the world.

At a meeting in London on Thursday, all 20 clubs agreed to explore a proposal to extend the season to 39 games.

Those 10 extra games would be played at five different venues, with cities bidding for the right to stage them.

It is understood the additional fixtures could be determined by a draw but that the top-five teams could be seeded to avoid playing each other.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore told BBC Sport: "I think it's an idea whose time has come. It's an exciting prospect.

We believe that an 'international round' of matches will enhance the strength of the Barclays Premier League as a competition

Richard Scudamore
Premier League chief executive

"It's an extra game, it's is not taking anybody's game away, and it includes all 20 clubs which is very important. All 20 clubs will benefit and there is a huge element of solidarity about it.

"When the league does well, other people in the football family do well in terms of redistribution. We feel it is a very positive thing.

"You can't stand still and if we don't do this then somebody else is going to do it, whether it be football or another sport. Therefore it's trying to ride the crest of that wave at the same as protecting what is good and great about what we do.

"Every time there is an evolutionary step, the reaction of the fans is not always great but I would ask them to take a step back and look at the positives."

The Football Association has given its provisional support to the plans.

"We understand the reasons for this proposals and the benefits it can bring to English football as a whole," said an FA source.

A final decision on the proposals will not be made until January 2009.

The main aspects of the plans are:

  • An additional round of Premier League fixtures, extending the season to 39 games, from January 2011

  • Four clubs to travel to one of five host cities, with two games taking place in each venue over a weekend

  • Cities would bid for the right to become a host, not for individual matches

  • Points earned from the games would count towards the final Premier League table

    606: DEBATE

    Scudamore added that "there is much more detail to follow which we will work on over the next 12 months".

    Cities in Asia, Middle East and North America are likely to show a strong interest in hosting the extra games.

    BBC sports editor Mihir Bose says the Premier League's decision to explore such a move is a "logical" one.

    "The growth of the Premier League has been impressive in the last 15 years thanks to the sale of television rights in this country," he said.

    "But now the market in the United Kingdom is becoming saturated and it is the overseas market which is now the big target area."

    This is a chance for the Premier League to showcase its product around the world

    BBC sports editor Mihir Bose

    The Premier League's income from the sale of overseas TV rights has already increased from 178m in 2001 to 625m for the current deal that runs until 2010.

    Broadcaster NowTV paid around 100m for the rights to Hong Kong alone.

    Premier League games are broadcast to over 600m homes in 202 countries worldwide, while an estimated 1bn people watched the Premier League game between Arsenal and Manchester United in November 2007.

    A number of top-flight clubs already play matches around the world as they seek to capitalise on the huge global interest in the English game.

    Manchester United are regular visitors to Asia, Middle East and America while other clubs are beginning to follow their lead.

    "This is a chance for the Premier League to showcase its product around the world," added Bose.

    "Some fans may feel aggrieved, but their concerns will be outweighed in the eyes of the clubs by the financial advantages.

    "The clubs will see this as a chance to make more money so they can invest in new facilities and better players."

    There is also likely to be a big scramble for the right to host the extra games.

    Manchester United have millions of fans in China
    Man Utd make regular visits to Asia and are proving a big hit in China

    "It will be like cities bidding for the Olympic Games or the World Cup," explained Bose.

    The Premier League's proposal mirrors moves in other sports, notably American Football.

    Miami Dolphins and New York Giants met at Wembley in October, the first competitive NFL game outside the Americas.

    "Globalisation is a challenge for all sports because the whole world seems to be interested in the very best of sport wherever it comes from," added Scudamore.

    "Through modern media exposure there is a globalisation and we need to do something to make sure we are at the forefront of that and making sure we turn that into positive benefits for the game at all levels in this country."

    Scudamore also defended the claim that taking away the principle of teams playing each other twice, home and away, removes the league's fairness.

    "There is a perfect symmetry to our league but that is not the same thing as saying it is fair," he said.

    "The clubs will know in advance what the rules are, there will be a draw and these matches will not be anyone's home or away games.

    "There are a lot of things that will be done to make it as fair as you can make it. This is not a challenge to the integrity of the competition."

    Mixed reaction to overseas plan
    07 Feb 08 |  Premier League
    What they say on overseas games
    07 Feb 08 |  Premier League
    Premier League going global
    07 Feb 08 |  Premier League
    USA 'should host Premier matches'
    26 Oct 07 |  Premier League
    Giants beat Miami at wet Wembley
    28 Oct 07 |  American Football


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