After last week’s Premier League announcement that a proposal is being examined to play 10 league matches outside of England during the 2010/2011 season, understandably there’s been a lot of opposition to the idea in the press and on the blogs.
On the EPL Talk message boards, EPL Talk reader Unoriginal_Name raised an excellent concern by pointing out that by adding a 39th game, it doesn’t make it fair. “When a team loses out on Europe or staying up because of their draw against a hard squad while another team got someone easy, you will never hear the end of it.”
Pundits, such as former Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce, criticized the proposal because it’s only going to add to the demanding number of games that footballers have to play these days.
My proposal is simple: Rather than add a 39th game, simply pick one of the weekends in the normal Premier League calendar and have all those matches that weekend played overseas. It resolves the complaint about player fatigue and it removes the concern about some teams unfairly having to play Man United (and similar heavyweights) three times in one season.
The weekend of matches would be carefully selected. Instead of January, December or February could be better times of the season to play and would distinguish the complaints about January (coinciding with the transfer window, heavy FA Cup schedule, same month as the African Nations Cup every two years).
Sure, under EPL Talk’s plan, fans in England would only being able to see their club play 18 instead of 19 home matches during the 2010/2011 season but the season ticket holders would receive a handsome discount to make up for not being able to see the match on their home turf. The clubs, of course, would still make enormous amounts of money overseas for the international match, so the season ticket discount would pale in comparison to the riches they would earn.
Lastly, I would recommend that if the Premier League passes, that the organization carefully pick which matches will be hosted in which cities around the world. Trying to arrange matches that will naturally appeal to the local audience would be preferred to ensure that the matches will sell out (for example, having Fulham play in the United States since it has several American players on its side would be ideal).
On a related note, watch Martin Tyler’s reaction to the Premier League proposal.