Chase for cash threatens to rob game of its founding principle

Eighty thousand Saudi Arabians sitting desolate through a 0-0 draw between Middlesbrough and Derby. A stadium full of Taiwanese all wondering why Wigan are playing five in midfield against Blackburn Rovers. Lots of Koreans politely applauding as Dean Ashton misses the only chance of a game that cost them a week's wages to attend.

The Premier League goes global and suddenly every Kuala Lumpur native who thought it was all about Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba is dealt a hard truth. Shanghai? Get ready for Chris Baird. Sydney? Graeme Murty's coming your way. When the exotic worldwide highlights goal-fest becomes the 90-minute reality does the Premier League really think it will conquer the world? Do Birmingham City expect to break America? Are the people of Tokyo about to fall under the irresistible spell of Trotters-mania?

Here is one thing you can be sure of: the Premier League's plan to play league games all over the world will be opposed on the spurious grounds that it betrays the honest English football fan, or whoever that is these days. Already there is a collection of self-appointed fans' group worthies claiming to speak on behalf of every English supporter. One even came up with the brilliant suggestion of putting it to a vote, although he failed to identify who exactly would qualify as the democratic franchise.

This is the reality. If 20 Premier League chairmen, chief executives and club owners want this to happen then – guess what? – it probably will. As for some kind of fan revolution, let us just say that it can go into the same file as the opposition to the Glazer takeover of Manchester United and the grumblings about the launch of the Premier League back in 1992. Doomed to failure. What is far more important here is that the principle of the league itself is protected – and that is comfortably the biggest thing English football stands to lose.

The plan is this: one extra game played in January; top four seeded to avoid playing one another; ties drawn like a cup competition. The reality could work as follows. Manchester United draw Spurs in Singapore and only get a point. Arsenal draw Derby in Seattle, win the game and, in May, take the title by a point. After the final game Sir Alex Ferguson tries to bring himself to say that the best team won it over 39 games – but he cannot, because this league is not a league any more.

That is what English football stands to lose: that old principle that a league season constitutes two games against each opponent (home and away) and the best team wins it. As long as that exists then, whatever happens, there is a connection right back through English football from the present day, to the first league championship in 1888 and what it constitutes to be champions of England. Lose it, and the Premier League blows the most valuable asset it has.

So, if this scheme really is on the cards, let the clubs be brave and take the plunge: take 10 games from the regular 38-game season and play them overseas. Clubs lose one home game every other year, promoted teams inherit the status of the club they replace. It may wound those among us who recoil at the prospect of, say, Liverpool playing home games in Bangkok but it is probably a bit late to start complaining about foreign influence in football now.

If the Premier League's ruling strata have any sense, they will stop entertaining this fudge that, under these new rules, every club must have the same number of home games and instead make them sacrifice one every other season. The rulers of American football's NFL managed it when they sent the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants to play the first ever regular season game outside America – in London in October. But this is where the problem lies: the NFL has a strong central command, the Premier League dances to whatever tune the clubs demand.

To keep the season to a 38-game maximum would require the preposterous Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards and his sidekick Richard Scudamore to stand up to the clubs. Can they do it? Richards is fine when it comes to walking out of Football Association meetings in a huff, but not so great when it comes to standing up to the clubs who form his power base. He left Sheffield Wednesday, where he was chairman, just before they began a slide into debt and mediocrity from which they have not yet recovered. Let's hope he is not about to do the same to the Premier League.

You know that things have got really bad when the first person to endorse the plan publicly is Birmingham City's diminutive co-owner David Gold whose family, let us not forget, made their money from a pornography empire. "The idea is very worthy of consideration," he cooed. "I find this amazingly exciting." Of course he does, because there is money involved and unfortunately any number of fans' protests or amusing banners are not going to change the minds of powerful people for whom money is their guiding principle.

Moving games abroad is not what most supporters want, but then they do not run the English game and they never will unless it becomes so unprofitable that it is returned to them by default. The best we can all hope for is that the Premier League is brave enough to go one step further and make the overseas match part of a 38-game season so at least we can still take the competition seriously – if not that absurd crew of owners, chairmen and chief executives.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
voices
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
Sport
SPORT
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Biggins as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan
theatreHow do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick