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Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Friday, 20 June 2008 16:26 UK

Asia U-turn on 39th-game proposal

Richard Scudamore
Scudamore held talks with Hammam in China

The head of the Asian Football Confederation has changed his mind over the Premier League's controversial 39th game being possibly staged in Asia.

The Premier League has been exploring the idea of clubs playing an extra round of matches in foreign cities.

When the idea was first floated, AFC president Mohammed Bin Hammam criticised the proposal, but he has subsequently had a change of heart.

"I would welcome the Premier League playing in Asia," said Hammam.

In February Hammam told the BBC: "We'll vote strongly against it. The Premier League is putting money before responsibility and dignity."

But the AFC president, who met Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore in China earlier this month, has softened his stance, though he wants any approach to come with both the approval of the Football Association and Fifa.

Jonathan Stevenson

Hammam said: "I had a chance to talk to the Premier League and I told them, 'If you want to come to Asia I will welcome you. I don't have a problem with that. Fans in Asia, they love to see your football'.

"I would welcome the Premier League playing in Asia but I would like to see the Premier League come to me through their national association or their confederation.

"In football, that structure has to be maintained otherwise we are going to have chaos.

"Yes, there is a lot of money in football and a few clubs are getting the biggest share of this income from TV and sponsorship but this shouldn't stop us from doing things in the right way."

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has insisted the Premier League's idea of an extra game will not happen while he is in office.

The Premier League has also yet to get the approval of the FA, who expressed "serious reservations" about the idea when it was announced.

see also
Clubs delay '39th game' decision
06 Jun 08 |  Premier League
Fifa rejects 39th-game proposal
14 Mar 08 |  Premier League
Overseas games plan 'in tatters'
17 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Asia opposes Premier League plan
14 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Platini scorns global games plan
09 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Top clubs consider overseas games
07 Feb 08 |  Premier League


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