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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 08:12 GMT
Mixed reaction to overseas plan
Birmingham co-owner David Gold
David Gold is backing the move
The Premier League's proposal to take matches overseas has drawn a mixed reaction, with the government raising fears over the "integrity of the game".

Birmingham co-owner David Gold is among those backing the move, saying: "We are making history."

But the reaction from fans in the UK has been swift, with many appearing unhappy about the idea.

And Andy Burnham, secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport, warned: "Careful consideration is needed."

The radical proposal would mean that from 2010-11 the Premier League would have a new 39-game season, with clubs jetting around the globe in January to play in various cities that had won hosting rights.

But Burnham said: "English football is hugely popular around the world and I understand the Premier League's desire to take the game to new audiences but this proposal goes beyond the Premier League and careful consideration is needed before any decisions are made.

606: DEBATE
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"Staging part of our domestic league in other countries raises issues for fans and football authorities here and around the world... playing an extra game also raises questions about the integrity of our competition."

Birmingham co-owner Gold said: "The Premier League, which is the greatest league the world has ever known, is being adventurous.

"It is looking forward and is looking to take an English brand global. The idea is very worthy of consideration. I find this amazingly exciting."

But Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn said the idea was still in its infancy.

"We have only agreed to explore something, nothing more than that," he said.

"When we find out more I'll be able to tell you if it is a good idea. We really are at step A and not step B or C.

"There is a load to look into. There are a lot of positives and negatives to come, but we don't really know. It's at a very, very early stage."

The BBC's 606 website has been inundated with posts, with the majority of nearly 5,500 comments so far critical of the proposals.

This is yet another case of the Premier League threatening the tradition of our game simply to follow money

Malcolm Clarke
Football Supporters' Federation

Malcolm Clarke, co-chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation, told BBC Sport: "I'm fairly confident in predicting that the overwhelming majority of football supporters will be totally opposed to this proposal.

"This is yet another case of the Premier League threatening the tradition of our game simply to follow money," he claimed.

"The idea that teams can play a league game in a place where their supporters won't be able to go and watch them will be totally opposed by the vast majority of supporters.

"What I want to do is put a challenge to the Premier League to abandon this completely if the majority of supporters turn out to be against it."

And Andy Mitten, editor of Manchester United fanzine 'United We Stand', said this move could set a "worrying precedent".

"What if it is a big success? What if Manchester United play a game once a year in Osaka, Melbourne or Dubai and then it becomes more attractive?" he told BBC News 24.

"It is one thing playing a pre-season friendly in Korea, it's another playing Fulham in Seoul in a league match.

"Some Manchester United fans will think it is great but the vast majority will be concerned that football is becoming ever more commercial and that Man Utd, as opposed to Bolton or Fulham, will be forced to trek across to different parts of the world to play games.

"There will be considerable concern among the fans if there is a trend that leads to the team playing more games away from Old Trafford."

Former Fulham and Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez added that it might not be just supporters who were upset by the Premier League initiative.

"Other national associations won't be happy about the Premier League coming into their game, taking sponsors, taking advertising, taking revenue from their game," he said.



SEE ALSO
Top clubs consider overseas games
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


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