According to the BBC, at a meeting in London on Thursday, all 20 Premier League clubs agreed to explore a proposal to extend the season to 39 games. Those 10 extra games would be played at venues around the world, with cities bidding for the right to stage them. It is understood the additional fixtures could be determined by a draw but that the top-five teams could be seeded to avoid playing each other.
Under the proposal, cities such as Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles, Singapore, Sydney, Johannesburg, Dubai and Beijing would stage matches between two Premier League sides. The League have called a news conference for this afternoon where it is expected they will confirm they are to explore the proposal of playing games in some of the world’s largest cities.
From a selfish point of view, I think this is great. I would love to be able to go and watch Manchester United again in Chicago or New York as I’ve done in the past. On an objective level, I think it is an astute move on the part of the league to capitalize on a worldwide base of fans that exists solely through TV and Internet coverage. What better way to solidify that fan base then to bring the live product to them? Within the UK the clubs have reached a saturation point in terms of attracting new supporters so it makes sense to try and broaden their earnings potential.
Not everyone supports the idea and Malcolm Clarke, co-chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation, told BBC Sport: “I’m fairly confident in predicting that the overwhelming majority of football supporters will be totally opposed to this proposal. This is yet another case of the Premier League threatening the tradition of our game simply to follow money. The idea that teams can play a league game in a place where their supporters won’t be able to go and watch them will be totally opposed by the vast majority of supporters. What I want to do is put a challenge to the Premier League to abandon this completely if the majority of supporters turn out to be against it.”
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