Scudamore insists relegation will remain

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The Independent Football

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore insisted today that promotion and relegation remain fundamental to English football.

Bolton chairman Phil Gartside has called for a review on the future of the Premier League and he proposed ring-fencing the top two divisions.

Scudamore today addressed a Global Sports Summit in London and took the stage with Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, whose format does not feature relegation.

Scudamore said: "Relegation is the best thing that happens in our league and the worst thing that happens. It keeps the season alive and keeps a whole lot of interest. If a team is in danger of relegation they are living in fear.

"It is the fundamental difference why we can't copy you (the NFL) and you can't copy us.

"Our league is a ladder to the leagues below and an escalator to European competition above.

"The whole raison d'jtre of the way the league was set up is to build a ladder."

Goodell revealed the NFL had been looking on the format of relegation with interest but added it would not fit their structure.

At present, the worst team in the NFL gets first draft pick of the best college players.

Scudamore argued that the success newly-promoted Hull have enjoyed this season - particularly when compared with Tottenham's struggles - provides the Premier League with just the entertainment so vital to keep interest levels high at home and abroad.

"If you look at the league the quality of football is fantastic and you have some unbelievable stories," he said.

"Hull City are in the Champions League places. The world had not heard of Hull City until the last few weeks. The world had heard of Tottenham Hotspur and they are languishing at the bottom of the league.

"You have the Manchester City story, whatever that is, the Newcastle story, whatever that is, and I have not even mentioned the four teams you might expect me to mention in Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.

"Ultimately, you have to keep interest going. That is the most important thing."

Scudamore addressed a wide range of issues on stage but much of the debate was centred around the Premier League's proposal for a controversial 39th game to be played abroad.

Scudamore has not given up on the idea and while admitting plans had been set back by the negative reaction, he still hopes to see something in place.

His enthusiasm for the idea has been fuelled by the second sell-out success of the NFL game at Wembley this Sunday.

"This is the second time around. It is proof that the globalisation of sport is here to stay," added Scudamore.

"We knew the reaction (to the 39th game proposals) would be somewhat extreme and we knew it was going to be difficult. It would be ridiculous to say the reaction has not pushed us back if not to the drawing board, then certainly the think tank.

"It has probably pushed the timelines back.

"In terms of playing meaningful games abroad, hopefully it will happen within my lifetime, hopefully within my soccer administration career.

"If we do anything internationally then 20 clubs will benefit from that."

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon insisted the Premier League were right to be exploring ways of making the product "more tangible to a global audience".

But Kenyon added the Premier League had to take the fans' reaction on board.

Kenyon was involved in a discussion on the live fans experience and despite the millions of pounds generated by television money, the conclusion was that live support remains at the heart of professional sport.

"It would be remiss of the Premier League not to evaluate ways of getting the Premier League to be more tangible to a global audience," he said.

"The 39th game just came out of the box without a rationale or mechanic defined for it.

"Going back to the fan experience, nobody wanted it to happen and you have got to listen to that."