Premiership banks £65m to aid Asia expansion

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The Independent Online

The Premier League demonstrated its relentless earning power again yesterday by agreeing a £65.8m extension of its title sponsorship with Barclays. The deal also signalled a new push for the League's expansion into Asia, and China in particular.

The bank's current three-year deal, worth £57m, expires at the end of the current season. The major feature in the new package, which runs from 2007 to 2010 inclusive, is that Barclays will sponsor a pre-season tournament, the Premier League Asia Trophy.

The event was played in Malaysia in 2003 and in Thailand in 2005, and the first staging under Barclays is scheduled to take place in China in July 2007. The bank is likely to lobby for at least one of England's "big four" clubs to take part.

The Premiership's clubs will each pocket £1m per season from the deal. There could be significant extra benefits for any teams chosen to play in the Asia Trophy, and there is expected to be fierce competition. The League will stipulate "qualification criteria", possibly excluding any club that is relegated.

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