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Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 17:25 UK

Asia warms to 39th-game proposal

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Bin Hammam supports 39th game

Staging Premier League matches in Asia could boost the continent's standard of football, says its top administrator.

Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam confirmed he is no longer opposed to AFC member states hosting English top-flight matches.

When the Premier League floated its 39th-game idea it drew huge criticism.

"It is now up to them if they want to present fresh plans. I am willing to listen and give my advice," Bin Hammam told BBC Sport.

"It's up to us to improve our level of football, but we would like the Premier League to help and support that process.

I've gone on record as saying that the idea that it will come back in exactly the same form as announced in February is wrong

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore
"There is a lot of knowledge the Premier League can transfer to us."

Chief executive Richard Scudamore told the BBC that the Premier League remains "keen to develop something internationally and globally" and will spend the next year examining the options.

Bin Hammam was initially against the Premier League's 39th-game proposal where a round of matches would be played outside England.

But he has changed his mind after meeting senior Premier League officials and gaining assurances that they would seek Football Association, Uefa and Fifa approval before the AFC was asked to allow matches to be staged in its territories.

Scudamore 'examining' 39th game concept

Bin Hammam told BBC sports editor Mihir Bose: "The Premier League is a brand which has a huge fan-base across Asia, and I believe it has the will and initiative to help develop and support the game there."

Bin Hammam wants to improve the standard of Asian football to generate more income for AFC members and their leagues.

"You cannot stop fans from wanting to watch the best games, and the Premier League is one of the best football products in the world," he said.

"But the desire of broadcasters in Asia to screen Premier League matches rather than their local leagues is where the imbalance is happening.

MIHIR BOSE BLOG
"They are willing to pay tens of millions to show Premier League games but not a few thousand to show domestic matches.

"That might take years to change, and the Premier League can give us technical assistance and help improve the skills of our administrators, marketing and media staff."

Meanwhile, Scudamore has insisted fans should not expect any future proposal to replicate the original idea.

"From the time we first floated the idea of the 39th game back in February, the Premier League and the clubs always said it had huge hurdles to overcome," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I've gone on record as saying that the idea that it will come back in exactly the same form as announced in February is wrong. We're not daft and we're not insensitive to the reactions of fans.

"We've never been confident that the 39th game will happen, but we are confident that we will spend a year absolutely examining it and looking at the various options.

"We're still keen to develop something internationally and globally, but the Premier League is doing very nicely indeed and we're in no rush at all."


see also
Scudamore defends ownership test
07 Oct 08 |  Premier League
Asia U-turn on 39th-game proposal
20 Jun 08 |  Premier League
Clubs delay '39th game' decision
06 Jun 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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