English Premiership

EPL to set sail - Swansea chief

2014-10-08 18:15
Huw Jenkins (Getty Images)

London - English Premier League matches will be staged overseas within two years, according to claims reported on Wednesday to have been made by Swansea City chairmperson Huw Jenkins.

There has long been a view within English football that the huge global popularity of the Premier League, particularly in the Far East and United States - where Manchester United recently drew huge crowds on their pre-season tour -- could be exploited by staging matches abroad.

However, plans for an overseas '39th game' were dropped in 2008 following opposition from supporters' groups and FIFA and UEFA, football's global and European governing bodies respectively, who were concerned about the impact of such a move upon domestic leagues.

But now there are suggestions that existing league fixtures -- rather than additional games -- could be taken overseas, with Jenkins telling a fans' forum: "I think it is inevitable it is going to happen.

"There's definitely going to be a run of games played abroad in 12 months or two years.

"That's where it's going to be and where the money is. It's a sad reflection of where football is, but unless we are part of that, it's inevitable we are going to fall behind.

"We have got to make sure, whether we like it or not, we are on board with it," he added, in comments reported by the Wales Online website.

A spokesman for England's Football Supporters Federation said it remained opposed to Premier League matches being played abroad.

"Once again the idea of potentially huge changes to the game has arisen without consultation with one of the groups that matters most -- the fans," the spokesman told the BBC.

"If the reaction to previous incarnations of 'Game 39' and the idea of matches overseas are anything to go by, we expect this proposal to be met with the strongest possible opposition from supporters."

But Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, speaking about the concept at a pre-season event in August, said it was just a matter of time.

"The clubs wanted it then (in 2008) and they would all probably want it now" he said.

"It will happen at some point. Whether it's on my watch, who knows?"

Former England striker turned BBC television presenter Gary Lineker tweeted his objections, saying: "Reemergence of plans to play PL games overseas is a rotten one. Need to make game more affordable for fans not less. Disrespectful avarice (extreme greed)!"

However, Lineker subsequently added he'd been told there were no immediate plans to play Premier League matches abroad.

"The premierleague have contacted me to say 'stories are premature and there's no plan currently for international games.' Great news!"," he said.

Meanwhile, the chief executive officer of the Bundesliga, Christian Seifert, has declared that he is strongly opposed to such an idea being introduced in German football.

"It would be completely against our understanding of how the fans should be involved," he told the Leaders Sport Business Summit at Stamford Bridge in London.

"This is a match-day which can have an impact on who's going to be relegated, who's going to be champion, who plays (qualifies for the) Champions League.

"For the financial side, it would be maybe a good idea to play a match-day all over the world.

"But for the supporters, who are visiting 34 games of this club -- no matter if it's snow, or rain, or wind -- and for that game where the impact is that the team could be relegated, they cannot be there because it's in Thailand.

"I think this would not be an approach for the Bundesliga."

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