Date:Thursday February 7 2008
We've reached yet another turning point in English football's history it seems. All 20 Premier League clubs have agreed on principle to explore the possibilities of playing league games overseas.
The decision could see English league matches played in Asia, America and even Africa, to further exploit the global popularity of the Premiership. The added TV income would be equally split between all the clubs and everyone would be happy.
Well, almost. Most of us did not approve of United playing a friendly in Saudi Arabia just to earn some more money... but at least that was not a competitive game. But matches played overseas would actually have an impact on the league's eventual outcome... and for me, that's unacceptable.
First, I don't think it's a good idea that English teams should fight for the English league trophy on another continent. The point of domestic competition is that it is domestic... it's not that difficult to comprehend.
Secondly, according to the plans, 38 games would be played as usual and every club would play another one away from England. The pairings would be decided by a draw in which the top 5 teams would be seeed to avoid each other.
But believe me, it does matter whether United have to play Aston Villa or Middlesbrough three times in a season, considering the vastly differing records against the two teams - and not to mention the injustice that would occur if a relagation candidate would be forced to play us or Chelsea while their rival would play a mid-table team... Quite simply, taking into account the results of these games, played on neutral ground, would be vastly unjust - teams could lose championships or get relegated due to these results. Is it only me who thinks that's not fair?
And the main problem is that we, optimistic fans, always assumed that the clubs's hunger for making money would stop at one point. We hoped that there was a limit, a border that nobody would cross and therefore football's structure will more or less remain the same as we know it now.
However, United's Saudi excursion, quickly followed by this idea, shows that there are no bounds to the desire for making even more money. The clubs, with a complete disregard for their fans, to traditions, to real sporting values, would go to any length for a little extra quid. If that involves playing in Johannesburg one week then New Orleans the next then so be it.
So it is not inconceivable that in the future, only those living in Asia or United States - both far bigger markets than little rainy Britain - will be fortunate enough to watch Premier League games in the flesh. Everyone else will be reduced to the status of armchair fans.
Date:Thursday February 7 2008
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