Gill warns Premier League must boost global appeal

Manchester United chief executive David Gill has urged the Premier League to continue coming up with innovative ideas to boost the competition's global appeal.

The Premier League announced last year that they are keen to add an extra, 39th round of games to the league's domestic calendar with the 10 fixtures to be played in venues outside of England.

The initial proposal drew criticism from a number of football authorities while United manager Sir Alex Ferguson last month reiterated his stance that a 39th game would be unfeasible due to an already congested fixture list.

And although Gill admitted he understood the need for the Premier League to look into the opportunity, the impact on the league needs to be fully explored before it can be seriously considered.

"We understand why the Premier League should evaluate all these opportunities," he said.

"Other sports, for example the NBA in particular, are making inroads into these markets and I think it was totally appropriate for the league to evaluate it.

"But I think, like most things in football, it became public much too soon before all the issues had been thought through.

"Our position as a club, having discussed it earlier, was that we were supportive of it being looked into and I think one of our key issues concerned the symmetry of the competition and the fact that at the moment there are home and away games.

"I think these issues were shared by other clubs when they thought about it further and how we would assess which teams would play the extra game and what bearing that would have on the league.

"Very often one or two points decide relegation or the championship so that game could have a big bearing and it would have to be organised whereby the top teams were kept apart in order to drive forward the commercial values.

"We fully support the Premier League not to be complacent and not to think that because it (the Premier League) has had so much success it will continue to do so."

Gill was speaking in Macau at the announcement of United's 2009 Asia tour that will see the Premier League champions play pre-season games in China, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia in July.

The Red Devils have visited the continent six times previously since 1995 and Gill believes it is important for the club's Asian fans to have the opportunity to see the players first hand.

"The sheer number of fans in Asia always overwhelms us," he added.

"No one who has ever attended one of our games out here can deny the passion for Manchester United and football.

"It is very important for us to come to Asia as often as we can to give our fans the experience of seeing the players playing and have the opportunity to watch them in their opening training sessions."

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