The Premier League club owners announced their plan to extend the season by one match (to 39 matches) yesterday, and have every club play one match abroad in January, starting in January 2011.
The plan is to auction off the rights to host two matches each to five different cities, with two matches to be played in each city over the same weekend.
Peter Scudamore, the Premier League’s Chief Executive said on Thursday:
“We believe that an ‘international round’ of matches will enhance the strength of the Barclays Premier League as a competition; create extra interest in all 20 Premier League Clubs at home and abroad; and allow increased investment in talent development and acquisition, facilities as well as our football development and community programs.”
Then only today, FIFA said it expected the English governing body, the Football Association, to send it something official about these plans:
“We understand the Premier League’s desire to raise interest in English football around the world,” “
We look forward to discussing the detail with the League and looking carefully at the implications, to ensure that the proposal fits well alongside the existing fixture list, including our domestic cup and league competitions and our national team games.â€
However, the Premier League’s plans to play games across the world been heavily criticized by fans and the media Friday.
Weâ€™re not sure this is the right way to go for the Premier League. It hardly makes sense to go to different cities around the world to publicize the best football league in the world. Why isnâ€™t TV good enough for fans around the world?
We can tell you we see lots and lots of games over here in the US from different countries and almost all of the Premier League games with Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports both showing the PL games.
Wee feel itâ€™s great to be able to watch the game live on TV and itâ€™s almost as good as being in England. Young Americans are able to watch top class football as it should be played and football is very popular with youngsters here who see a big career for themselves in Europe â€“ if they are good enough. That was never true 15 years ago.
While the NFL and NHL go and play games in other countries they hardly have the television draw of football (thatâ€™s the real football) and may have to try to pump up interest in their spots which are mainly US centric with their audience.
But thatâ€™s hardly the case with football, which is by now the worldâ€™s premier game, easily, and if the best league in the world can increase the TV coverage to countries the world over, that would be great.
We donâ€™t mind a trial to see how it goes but we hardly think it makes sense to play many Premier League game in other countries. If you take this far enough â€“ as Harry Redknapp has â€“ the local fans will not be able to see their home town teams play.
What the Premier League are trying to do has to be explained better, because it doesnâ€™t make sense to most football people.
Here are some quotes that were made on the plan just today:
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Friday.
“My instinctive reaction is not to be against innovation” â€œThis league is at the moment acknowledged as the best in the world but only 10 per cent of people who love the clubs have access to the games and 90 per cent don’t.â€
“But it can only be valid if you respect certain criteria. The first is to respect the competitive side of our game. The second is respect the quality of the organization you have inside the game and the fairness of the game.”
Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp also commented on the plan today:
“I said months ago I could see us playing abroad, I could see them all taking their teams, getting more and more foreign owners “We will probably end up playing one game a year in England and the rest around the world.”
“It would be like the Harlem Globetrotters (touring basketball team).”
FIFA, the world governing body which is campaigning to stop the big clubs from effectively taking over the game, said it would need to analyze the plan that has been announced:
The Japanese Football Association vice-president Junji Ogura said:
“It sounds problematic,” “We are, in principle, opposed to having their Premier League games in Japan as we have to protect our league and clubs.”
“In Japan, we don’t allow anyone to play a match that involves only foreign clubs and no Japanese clubs.”
Duncan Drasdo of the Manchester United Supporters Trust said:
“No doubt there will be some supporters who naively assume this will generate funds for their clubs but of course in reality all extra revenue goes straight out of the clubs into the owners’ pockets,”
“Just look at Manchester United for example. Record sponsorship and record TV revenues and yet still the ticket prices are increased by record amounts (50 per cent in three seasons).”
One of the really big problems with the Premier League is that the top clubs every season earn the most money from TV and from the Premier league.
So the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and if something isnâ€™t done soon, weâ€™ll have a lot more teams going out of existence, which is the heart of the game. Things will come to a head and before we know it lower league clubs will be bankrupt. Itâ€™s like a guy falling from the 60th floor and as he passes the 30th floor says â€œSo far so good.â€
This situation is solved in America by the college recruiting system, where the bottom professional team gets the first (best player) draft pick, so it tends to keep the teams competitive.
Maybe they should play these games around the world to try it out â€“ but then divide the revenues to the non-Premier clubs only â€“ now thereâ€™s something that may be worth looking at â€“ but somehow we donâ€™t the Premier league owners would be too interested in that.
Well – thatâ€™s what we think.
What do you think â€“ please let us know.
Comments very welcome.