Back in 2008 I was one of the few who supported the idea of taking the Premier League overseas and nothing since has persuaded me otherwise.
Indeed, I believe removing the inherent unfairness of the “39th game” proposal, which meant one team might be playing the league leaders while their relegation rival faced the bottom club, now makes it an even better idea.
It also reduces some of the charge from supporters’ groups that it is all about greed. Clubs will forgo the cash receipts from a home game every two years. Since they will be honour-bound to subsidise foreign travel for the most dedicated fans (and if “honour” does not work, maybe they can be compelled), they may do little more than break even.
This is about the brand, the audience, and fairness. With the globalisation of sport the Premier League has to hit the road. London stages NFL gridiron, NBA basketball and NHL ice hockey.
Golf’s European Tour long ago dispensed with that geographical boundary, Formula One and tennis are everywhere, cricket, baseball and rugby seeking to expand. There are only so many sponsors.
The Premier League, to preserve its ability to attract star players, needs to keep its share of that cake.
While the league may have more foreign owners and players than most of us are comfortable with, it also has millions of foreign fans who follow teams as avidly as domestic supporters. Why should they be denied a rare chance to see their team play a meaningful game in the flesh?
Taking all 20 clubs on the road means the little ones get the same boost as the big ones. This summer Manchester United played Real Madrid and Liverpool in the US, raking in millions. Hull went to Stuttgart.
If they could bring in fans by playing in Mumbai and Tokyo, Assem Allam might not feel the need to rename them.Reuse content