Scudamore confident of green light for overseas matches
Monday 11 February 2008
The Premier League's chief executive Richard Scudamore yesterday defended proposals to play matches abroad and said he expects the plan will go ahead.
The proposal to extend the season to 39 games from 2010-11 has divided football, with top-flight clubs in favour and some supporters' groups up in arms over the issue. The plan envisages an extra round of games hosted by five cities across the world during a weekend in January.
"This is a solidarity move where all 20 clubs want to do it," Scudamore said. "It benefits all of them and it's far better we all do it rather than allow single clubs to."
Critics of the plan say it would destroy the symmetry of the league programme – whereby clubs play each other twice, home and away – but Scudamore said he is confident the plan will go ahead.
"I think it will, I think it's got a momentum and a huge amount of merit," he said. Full talks still had to be held with the game's world governing body Fifa, but Scudamore said: "I don't think their statutes currently cover this. We will talk it through with them."
Scudamore hinted the Premier League would be within their rights to defy any Fifa edict prohibiting the plan. "It needs sanctioning by our own FA and wherever we play it will need sanctioning by the local FA," he said. "There is no perfect hierarchy in football where Fifa can tell Uefa, who tell the Premier League what to do."
Scudamore did not rule out more than one "international round" being played at some point in the future. "You can't sit here in the job I have and say never," he said. "We've said it is a six to 10-year deal and it will be three years before it starts. We think it is a 10-year play in terms of protecting our domestic position.
"It allows us to grasp the globalisation nettle, which we cannot ignore. I would be criticised wholly if we let the league stray into the slow lane while others passed us in the fast lane. We have to do something. It is a strategic play."
However, Scudamore admitted any expansion of the scheme would be hindered by the current fixture list. He added: "I don't envisage this being able to be expanded, not within the current structures. The calendar just would not allow it."
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