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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2008, 19:37 GMT
Where now for Scudamore?
By Chris Whyatt


Richard Scudamore
'Project Scudamore' has been the subject of intense criticism
Architect of the wildly controversial plans to play matches abroad, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore is under the fierce glare of the spotlight like never before.

Since unveiling his proposals for England's top flight to play a round of 'international' fixtures in five cities across the globe from 2011, Scudamore has been subjected to a backlash that could be felt from Scarborough to Sydney.

And on Thursday the Football Association delivered a potential knock-out blow when its chairman, Lord Triesman, rejected the idea in its current format.

So where now for Scudamore? BBC Sport looks at the man behind the plans which rocked world football and may now need something of a re-think.

BRISTOLIAN BACKGROUND

A lifelong Bristol City fan, Scudamore once admitted he would be happier for the Robins to be promoted to the Premier League than for England to win the World Cup.

606: DEBATE
Chris W

Yet the man whose mega-bucks plans to globalise the Premier League are fighting for survival made his name selling Yellow Pages.

Having studied law at Nottingham, the self-confessed 'marketeer' spent nine years at the telephone directory giant, progressing through sales and marketing and planning and regional management before rising to the position of sales director.

After that came a change of industry as the 46-year-old went into newspapers - a move that surely armed canny media player Scudamore with some of the core skills he has utilised in steering the Premier League ship.

Bristol City
Scudamore is passionate about his boyhood team Bristol City

He spent 10 years in New York as an advertising executive and senior vice-president of the Thomson Corporation and was responsible for their United States newspaper publishing division.

Next came the job of a lifetime, with Scudamore made chief executive of the Premier League, and with it came the responsibility for negotiating lucrative broadcast and commercial contracts as well as taking the lead in any regulatory, legal or political matters.

Sport mad, the most powerful man in British football is a second cousin to former champion jockey Peter Scudamore and a keen golfer. He is also a qualified level five referee.

PREMIER DEAL-MAKER

Arch-negotiator Scudamore started his post with a bang when, just one year in, he clinched a record 1.3bn domestic television deal along with a 12m-a-year league sponsorship with Barclaycard.

In the summer of 2003 he again came up trumps to seal a new 1.13bn broadcasting contract with BSkyB and the BBC for 2004-07, despite a fallen market in TV sports rights and when many Premier League clubs had huge debts.

Cameraman
Scudamore has used global TV rights to maximise revenues

Scudamore took a massive gamble at that time, with the European Commission spending two years investigating how the Premier League sold its media rights and threatening to declare the deals unlawful.

But, faced with club chairmen increasingly impatient for a deal to be done, Scudamore spent months flitting between London and Brussels to largely satisfy EC objections and emerge as a master tactician.

Scudamore's biggest coup came in early 2007 when he stunned observers, wary that the football bubble was about to burst, by negotiating a 2.7bn deal for TV rights around the world - increasing broadcasting revenues by 66%.

CONTROVERSY ABOUNDS

Though widely acknowledged as a pragmatic operator who is excellent at his job, life at the Premier League helm has certainly not been all plain sailing for Scudamore and he has deep experience in riding various storms of controversy.

In the summer of 2000, Scudamore battened down the hatches for potential transfer chaos when the European Union threatened to deem the traditional transfer market illegal.

A year later strife of a more internal nature struck when Scudamore clashed with Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor over financial negotiations.

Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano
Criticism rained in after the transfers of Tevez and Mascherano

The PFA threatened to call a players' strike unless the Premier League offered a larger share of its TV revenue but a deal was made in which the players' union landed a deal worth 52.5m over three years.

Perhaps the most vulnerable stage of Scudamore's tenure was in the summer of 2007 - when the Carlos Tevez saga delivered another blow to the Premier League's reputation following Lord Stevens' report into dodgy transfer dealings.

Following questions over the Argentine striker's ownership and eligibility when at West Ham, which prompted relegated Sheffield United to take court action, Scudamore was forced to promise a tightening of rules to prevent a repeat of the incident.

Clearly Scudamore has no shortage of experience when it comes to handling criticism but many feel Lord Triesman's rejection of his proposals on overseas fixtures and demand for any alternative plans to be presented "relatively quickly" will prove a bridge too far.

Will his survive this latest escapade with his job intact?

SCUDAMORE QUOTES

"Player contracts are confidential but I would be in favour of full public transparency in their wages and bonuses. I think that would have a deflationary effect on wages."
August 2002

"We are by far the most redistributive league anywhere in Europe. In fact, the Football Association and the Premier League are called on to speak at seminars across the world as a shining example of redistribution."
February 2004

"You can't keep everybody happy as the pie moves round. Some people get disenchanted, others are enchanted but it's about making sure the pie gets bigger all the time."
August 2006

"We need as many teams as possible in the running to win the Premier League - or fighting for Europe or against relegation... It won't be healthy if Chelsea win it 10 years in a row."
August 2006

"We have a cosmopolitan approach to players and a cosmopolitan approach to ownership and that is paying off."
January 2007

Football fan
Scudamore champions both grassroots football and global plans

"I go to the finest stadia ever and watch some of the quickest, slickest, most exciting football. Everybody is coming at us. The Premier League is so pervasive, so much part of news, front and back of papers, that basically all the world wants a big slice of us."
September 2007

"If you are going to globalise you must ensure [that there are] the firm, solid roots in your local community."
November 2007

"People see players show dissent on the pitch, what managers do on the touchline, and they think it is acceptable behaviour on the terraces and - considerably more disturbingly - in Sunday games, school and junior games. It is not."
January 2008

WHAT NEXT?

While the '39th game' proposals seem to be hanging by the thinnest of thread, Scudamore - on a salary of 800,000 a year, plus bonuses - will most likely ignore the catcalls and do what he does best.

Stay calm and do his best to get on with the job in hand.

Insisting that the proposals will take shape over a year-long consultation process, Scudamore meets with Fifa president Sepp Blatter in Zurich on 28 February to chew the fat over the obstacles currently being raised by the game's guardians.

Seen by some supporters as nothing more than a chase for more foreign cash, the global proposal has drawn almost universal condemnation and many feel Scudamore has alienated the English football fanbase.

Portsmouth
Portsmouth won the Premier League Asia Cup in Hong Kong last year

Some commentators even believe he has stepped too far beyond the realm of his responsibilities and should fall on his sword to save any further embarrassment to the game.

And, ahead of the meeting with a sceptical Blatter, the FA's initial rejection could prove to be the penultimate nail in his coffin.

But, having created the world's richest football league, the alchemist in Scudamore will still try to charm and convince the head of world football's governing body - along with potential venues such as Australia, Asia and North America - that his plans are visionary.

Gabriel Agbonlahor lashing the ball past Joe Hart to secure Champions League qualification for Aston Villa as the sun dips behind a heaving stand in Singapore... it remains a possibility while Scudamore still believes it is an idea worth pursuing.



SEE ALSO
FA rejects '39th game' proposal
21 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Global plans not dead - Scudamore
19 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Blatter hostile to overseas plan
15 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Does the world want Premier League?
14 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Global plan will 'distort' League
14 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Asia opposes Premier League plan
14 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Platini scorns global games plan
09 Feb 08 |  Premier League
US reluctant to host Premier ties
12 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Lamb backs '39th game' proposals
13 Feb 08 |  Middlesbrough
Top clubs consider overseas games
07 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Mixed reaction to overseas plan
08 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Pros & cons of global Premier plan
08 Feb 08 |  Premier League
What they say on overseas games
07 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Premier League going global
07 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Blatter secures third Fifa term
31 May 07 |  Football


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