THURS, 1PM ET
WOL0
EVE2
THURS, 1PM ET
FEY2
SEV0
THURS, 3PM ET
TOT1
PAR0
THURS, 3PM ET
INT2
DNI1
THURS, 3PM ET
VIL2
MON2
THURS, 3PM ET
CEL1
SAL3

A New Proposal for the Premier League’s 39th Game

number 39 A New Proposal for the Premier Leagues 39th Game

I am in a favor of the 39th game (audible gasp). By that I don’t mean each team should play an extra round of fixtures tagged on somewhere in an already congested season that would ultimately imbalance the entire league structure and everything we hold dear about equality, fairness and the unbiased (cough) nature of the Premier League fixture list. The 39th game hoopla seems to have slipped away recently but I wouldn’t bank it not returning in some other guise in the not too distant future if the likes of Richard Scudamore and Ian ‘why can’t the big clubs get paid more?’ Ayre have their way.

If we are ever to reach a juncture when the Premier League must decide between further expansion or a self-imposed isolation, I have what I believe to be a pretty decent proposition for all concerned. Each summer Premier League sides head off into the far flung corners of the world, scrambling for American and, more importantly, Asian currency, hoping to sate the appetite of the overseas fans with a momentary glimpse of their idols. Manchester United spent last summer in the States competing against a host of Europe’s top names in Houston, Seattle and other such places in what were billed as showpiece events for the native audience but attracted little more than a passing glance from those of us in the UK. That was obviously the point. The United hierarchy want the diehard fan from Kentucky to continue buying the latest away strip every 12 months, believing a friendly or two will do the trick.

United are far from alone in this. Chelsea and Aston Villa competed for the Premier League Asia Trophy in Malaysia whilst Blackburn recently flew half way round the world to play an Indian select side. For these teams it is purely a simply a business decision designed to develop their markets in up to recently untapped territories. My proposal is that these pre-season games be developed further into something tangible, an exciting curtain raiser that would have real impact on the league table without compromising the integrity of said league.

The proposal would be this:

At the end of each Premier League season, the 20 teams would be split into 5 groups of 4. Which group each team would enter would be dependent on their final standing in the table. For example, going by the final places for the 2010-11 season the first group would contain; Manchester United (1st), Liverpool (6th), West Brom (11th) and Wigan (16th). Each of the 5 groups would have representatives 5 league positions apart to allow for an even spread. These teams would face off in a semi-final before going on to the final two or three days later. Each 4 team mini-tournament would take place in a different host city around the globe; Sydney, Tokyo etc and be played across the week/weekend of the terminal irrelevance that is the Community Shield. The 5 winners would each receive 3 points, the beaten finalist 1 point and the beaten semi-finalists no points. These points would be added to the league table for the upcoming season.

Here’s why it would work:

1) The obvious financial boon is the reason the 39th game was contemplated in the first place and why it will never truly go away. English clubs would be heavily compensated in terms of TV money, gate receipts and the chance to expand their markets into previously untapped territories. The winning bid from the host city would also be split evenly between the 4 competing sides.

2) The exposure for the smaller clubs. Naysayers pointed out that few in Bangkok might fork out good money to watch Stoke play West Brom in a glorified friendly match but if at least one of the big boys was guaranteed to be in the town each year and real points were at stake this wouldn’t be much of an issue.

3) The likes of Wigan or Swansea would have a real chance to turn over one of the bigger clubs and get a head start in the league that season. Yes, over 38 games the richest clubs usually win out but over a two game series anything is possible and 3 points before a ball is kicked in regular season for a team of lesser means could make a huge difference in terms of relegation etc.

4) Overseas fans outnumber the native fans for many of the bigger English clubs these days and I think it’s time they were truly rewarded for their loyalty and willingness to continue buying the overpriced merchandise. A South Korean Spurs supporter is just as valid in my book as an Arsenal fan from South Wales and would most likely jump at the chance of watching their idols up close in a match that actually meant something for a change.

5) The prospect of points would surely snare a British audience and would act as an intriguing curtain raiser, a chance to watch the new signings in a competitive environment.

6) Fixture congestion is certainly an issue but not a great one. Two extra games tagged on to a pre-season that already involves multiple games, countries and time zones would make little difference. Easing the load could come from abolishing FA Cup replays after the Third Round and using some of the new dates created by the relaxing of the international friendly timetable.

7) The 5 tournaments played over 7 nights in early to mid-August would create a real event to rival anything offered by the NFL or even that of the Champions League in some respects.

The Italians have already stolen something of a march on the Premier League by hosting the SuperCoppa Italia out in Beijing in recent years and there is a danger that if we don’t do something the satisfy the overseas demand for top quality football then someone else will and it may too late by then to join the party. I can’t say that I revel in the idea of a football league without borders that forgets its own culture and beginnings as I believe it is that culture that makes English football so attractive to fans, wherever they may hail from. However, we do not want to be left behind and if there has to be a 39th game, then I’d prefer that it was done right instead of simply plonking a United/Liverpool game in Dubai in the middle of February.

So, Scudamore, there we have it. I don’t really want just a 39th game but a 40th too if possible.

This entry was posted in Leagues: EPL, Premier League. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to A New Proposal for the Premier League’s 39th Game

  1. I say just take the Serie A route.

    Make the Community Shield abroad, No one in England is really that bothered by it.

    • daS says:

      agreed! make the community shield abroad. it would feature two of the best teams in england, instead of two randoms. i for one would not pay to see west brom vs swansea or whatever, but i would pay to see the champion play whoever wins the fa cup.

    • lefthog says:

      won’t happen either.

      The FA still has to pay off the most expensive stadium ever. Which means the big bowl has to be filled with games. Thats why even the FA-Cup semis are played there now.

  2. Simon Burke says:

    Terrible – too complex. Clearly you’ve put in plenty of though but as complex as your idea is, it lacks any
    simplicity that it needs. The fella about has it right. Community Shield. No-one would care.

  3. Simon Burke says:

    It would help if i could spell: – thanks Iphone

    Terrible – too complex. Clearly you’ve put in plenty of thought but as complex as your idea is, it lacks any
    simplicity that it needs. The fella above has it right. Community Shield. No-one would care.

  4. Mark says:

    I LOVE THE IDEA!! If only there was a way to make this proposition to the league heads. Very well thought out too.

  5. SSReporters says:

    This idea is not too different from the idiocy of hosting a Super Bowl or regular season game (even team!) in London.

    The system is fine as it is.

  6. Some very contrasting opinions here! Personally, I’m not in favour of the 39th game concept, especially if it takes the form of the NFL regular season game being supplanted into London each year which could imbalance the EPL. The Community Shield route would just be another meaningless friendly played on foreign fields. If the 39th game has to to happen I’d prefer something like this that splits the cake evenly and allows equal exposure for all 20 clubs but still gives fans a glimpse of United, Liverpool et al. The sheer importance of the points would demand interest.

  7. CTBlues says:

    Sounds like an awesome idea.

  8. Jean says:

    More soccer for me, so why not??

  9. Christian says:

    Sorry, I hate this idea. The league season is the playoff. There is balance and equity in that. Why mess with something that is not broken.

    This has me wondering if this is just an American idea or is there a growing sentiment in England for this? We must have championship game. This America. We must have penultimate game!!!!!!

  10. David G says:

    How about instead of extra games you have the home and away two game fixture list overseas everyother year.

    This would give a cities around the world a chance to see English teams, would help limit the travel, and could raise money promoted the EPL

    So let’s say next year, towards the middle of the season you’d have every team play another team back to back in the schedule.

    Pick 10 cities (we’ll use USA for this example)

    Pick big teams vs smaller ones
    Having two games played overseas agaisnt same opponents woudl eliminate the unfairness of a misbalanced schedule

    Example

    Seattle- Man United vs Bolton
    Portland- Man City vs Blackburn
    Los Angeles-Newcastle vs QPR
    Houston-Fullham vs Everton
    Boston- Liverpool vs Swansea
    New York- Arsenal vs Wolves
    Washington-Tottenham vs Norwich
    Philly- Sunderland vs Wigan
    Chicago- Aston Villa vs West Brom
    Kansas City- Chelsea vs Stoke

    Each team woudl play saturday/sunday first game and the following Sat/Sun for 2nd game…

    Maybe mid week the better of the two teams would play the MLS team in a friendly in the respective city.

    • Another interesting proposal, this one would be a little less complicated than mine certainly and would still hold that ‘event-like’ status the Premier League bosses crave. I think too many traditionalists were a little quick to slam the concept of the 39th game before considering all the options.

    • IanCransonsKnees says:

      Which is the larger market Asia or America?

  11. IanCransonsKnees says:

    “Easing the load could come from abolishing FA Cup replays after the Third Round and using some of the new dates created by the relaxing of the international friendly timetable.”

    Only viable if you make the team that is higher in the league play away from home. Otherwise you stitch up the likes of Stevenage, Port Vale, Bury et al who rely on that massive cup draw to make a huge difference to their finances once every year or two. There are 92 clubs in the English League not just 20.

    “Overseas fans outnumber the native fans for many of the bigger English clubs these days and I think it’s time they were truly rewarded for their loyalty and willingness to continue buying the overpriced merchandise. A South Korean Spurs supporter is just as valid in my book as an Arsenal fan from South Wales and would most likely jump at the chance of watching their idols up close in a match that actually meant something for a change.”

    Overpriced mechandise bought every year by your non attending fans vs Season/match tickets/away travel + the same overpriced merchandise bought by your regularly attending fans.

    Your South Wales dwelling Arsenal fan is as likely to get as close to ‘The Library’ as you South Korean Spurs supporteris to WHL. Why risk further alienating the people who put money into your club dirctly, on a weekly basis? The average fan over here is pissed off with the state of the EPL, see David Moyes comments this week about a 20% pay cut across the board.

    “A chance to watch the new signings in a competitive environment.” That’s what happens when the league season kicks in.

    “English clubs would be heavily compensated in terms of TV money, gate receipts and the chance to expand their markets into previously untapped territories. The winning bid from the host city would also be split evenly between the 4 competing sides.” The gate receipts from each set of games would have to be split evenly between the four teams in each group to achieve financial parity. What if Wigan beat Liverpool and West Brom beat Man Utd as per your example? How many would attend the Final? Would it be an embarrassment if there was a half empty stadium for the match if the teams travelled to Tokyo/Sydney et al? The unthinkable happens.

    “a United/Liverpool game in Dubai in the middle of February”

    Most people would be happy with this, only a slim majority of their overall fanbase actually get to watch the game in the flesh so they wouldn’t mind watching it on TV anyway, they’re used to it.

    Plus point for me if it did go ahead. Stoke took 5-6000 to Valencia a couple of weeks back, it was an awesome experience, beat going to Wembley twice and even promotion hands down for me. I’d do it again tomorrow, so long as we didn’t get lumbered with the middle eastern rubber and their barbaric alcohol laws.

    It’ll be a long time coming imo.

    • Valid points, especially concerning the FA Cup which I believe should be seeded with the higher placed side playing away from home.

      I disagree on alienating the EPL fans who go through the turnstiles each week. They get 19 home league games as well as the cups, europe possibly too. The 2 game pre-tournament series would be a show for the overseas fans whose money is increasingly starting to play a major role in how the club is run, enabling further growth etc. Would the EPL be able to pay the wages they do without the foreign TV market?

      The higher placed teams would also get seedings in the semi-finals to offer more potential for upsets, drama and the big clubs winning which would draw the audience. If the unlikely happened and Bolton V Wigan in New York came to pass then good for them, hopefully it would increase their profile and win them some new fans.

  12. IanCransonsKnees says:

    “If the unlikely happened and Bolton V Wigan in New York came to pass then good for them, hopefully it would increase their profile and win them some new fans.”

    The use of the word unlikely in itself shows the flaw in the idea, the smaller clubs are expected to roll over for the bigger clubs and are tolerated as whipping boys. It’d be a non-contest and ultimately quite dull in a Rangers/Celtic, Madrid/Barcalona cakewalk style.

    Why not take the top 6 around the world and just have them on show? The rest of us wouldn’t miss out and by the sound of it the foriegn audience wouldn’t miss us anyway.

  13. Nick says:

    Its ENGLISH football, the E in ‘EPL’ (sorry but we dont call it that here) actually stands for ENGLISH. None of our domestic games, community shield, premier league or Johnstons Paint Trophy will ever be played abroad, the uproar from football supporters here would be too much. Why not concentrate on improving your own domestic leagues and leave our football where it belongs – in England with the real supporters.

    • The Gaffer says:

      But Nick, that’s the point. We’re at a time where the global TV revenue for the Premier League is almost greater than the TV revenue from the UK. The football may be played in England, but it’s the rest of the world that is helping to pay the wages of the players. The Premier League is a global league, there’s no doubt about it.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Nick says:

        The soul hasnt been taken out of our game just yet, you have been spoon fed this ‘global EPL brand’ which simply isnt true. Its not all about money im afraid.

        • The Gaffer says:

          Nick, but it is all about money. Tell me how the Premier League is not all about money. I love the football and everything about it, but it’s all about the money. The supporters may not think so, but the clubs certainly do.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • Nick says:

            all your money has done is increase the greed in our national game. The last time this ridiculous idea was mentioned the entire country was outraged and the government stepped in, football is part of our culture here and it will not be taken away from us.

            • The Gaffer says:

              We’re not trying to take it away from England or Wales. We just would love to see some competitive games played overseas.

              Greed has been in this game for decades. It’s not a new phenomenon.

              Cheers,
              The Gaffer

  14. Nick says:

    you dont want to take our game but you want competitive games overseas? erm..

    If you want to watch English football on tv or to fly over for competitive games then thats great, but just because you buy replica shirts and subscribe to cable doesnt give you any right at all.

    • The Gaffer says:

      I’d love to see a Barclays Trophy tournament held in the US, just like Asia gets the Barclays Asia Trophy.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Nick says:

        Now that is a good idea, theres certainly no harm in friendlies or exhibition matches being played throughout the world, but start moving competitive games and you might aswell remove the E from EPL (as you yanks love to call our top division)

  15. Cheers for the support Gaffer. I love the English game as much as anyone, especially the unique footballing culture we have here. However, the 39th game seems to be way global sport is going and it may take 5, 10 or 15 years to implement and my proposal was one way of keeping it fair and equal. Remember that back in the 1950′s there were people who would not allow Chelsea to enter the European Cup and tried to stop United doing the same. The EC is now a huge part of football in this country but was seen as a dangerous step back then. Keep that in mind.

  16. brn442 says:

    I’m sorry Gaffer but amen to Nick. All these non-sensical, complicated proposals simply to cash in on an absurd fantasy of a “competitive” match oversees are just that.

    If one wants to see a real PL football match, do what I did – jump on a plane, book a hotel room, buy some tickets, and go watch a match in England. If the rest of the world can “afford” to “help pay” the players’ wages, they should be able to afford the trip.

    • The Gaffer says:

      I’d love to go back to Britain to watch some Premier League games in person (I did it in 2006), but with a wife and four kids, the airfare alone is too cost prohibitive. I could go alone, but it’s not fair to my wife and the rest of the family :(

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • brn442 says:

        Gaffer – I agree, but the main reason I went over, was to see the old Highbury/ Anfield grounds and for the atmosphere. I’m sorry to say – both will not be replicated with a match oversees. It’s the very reason, billions around the world love the Premiership.

        As more top teams do pre-season visits to the Far East and North America; they are not just doing the holiday/training tours as in the past, by casually playing and beating the local XI du jour 8-0 (Man U – Seattle excepted).

        With the likes of mini cups, the matches are far more competitive. I would have no problem with the FA or the League having some of their cup matches or the Charity Shield overseas.

  17. Guy says:

    How many NFL fans would like to see something like this required of their teams? Don’t all raise your hands at once.

    I have no desire to hijack the PL for the sake of my personal fancy….and that’s what this would be. Save your money. Get on a plane. You’ll enjoy the experience all the more.

    • IanCransonsKnees says:

      I have to agree with Guy and brn442. Having just experienced following my team in Europe for the first time in a competitive match it’s a similar scenario to anyone else having to travel long distance to follow their team and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

      Simply transplanting the the teams from one country to another will not give you the same experience as travelling to see them in their home ground. It’d be an artificial experience for those who haven’t been to the home of ‘their’ team. Franchising by any other name. The Gaffer has an interesting article from me about an experiment in the 70s when you trialled this last time he might be able to licence it.

      My honest take on it is that it’s not a complete non-starter but there’s little more than a 10% chance of it happening, the decision will boil down to politics (Platini et al wanting to curtail the Premier League) and money.

      Personally I see more chance of the Premier League breaking up and a European Super League forming than a 39th game. My question in that scenario is who would you want to come to your country then, the top four teams that the majority of EPLTalk readers follow plus the other ESL teams or the English top 4 and the rest of the domestic top flight?

      In reality it boils down to Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal shirt wearers wanting their team to come to them rather than them actually bothering about seeing the other sides that would have to travel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>