Friday, 13 July 2012

The 39th Game: the debate rages again

As Manchester United jet across the world satisfying a Premier League hunger beyond these shores, the spectre of a 39th Game must surely be back on the agenda.

United lead the way with a mind-numbing pre-season schedule of 22,000 airmiles with friendlies in South Africa, China, Norway, Sweden and Germany.

Premier League CEO Scudamore loves globalization
Champions Manchester City travel 16,000 miles to Austria and China. Everton are in Indonesia, while Spurs, Chelsea, Liverpool and Villa are in the USA.

Chief Executive of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore is the most powerful proponent of globalising the Premier League with the 39th Game, but it's an idea in the traditions of Millwall. No one likes it, he don't care!

And when I canvas my fellow football-loving pals, I'm firmly in a minority of one in thinking this is a good idea.

But it's got to be a logical progression for the most widely watched league in the world.

Supporter groups in England are unsurprisingly against it.
After all, the NBA and NFL come to London, so is the Premier League missing a trick? In an inter connected world, isn't it an essential mechanic of a global game?

And if we don't do it, won't other European leagues biting at our heels do it first? Barcelona and Real Madrid are real Box Office and oh yeah, their national team is the greatest ever! The Premier League must stay ahead of the game and embrace an enlarged and growing fanbase - or somewhere else will grab them.

As the recession showed, travelling support for England was curtailed to Poland and the Ukraine, but for clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool, local support is literally only half the story.

And for teams like Queen's Park Rangers, boasting new signing Ji Sung Park, South Korea presents a massive new fanbase opportunity (although curiously his homeland isn't part of their mammoth 20,000 mile trek this time).

I really believe it's one-eyed for the Premier League not to consider the 39th Game and having created the global demand, our clubs need to respect and honour it with meaningful competition, not just friendlies.

We had an audio debate in the @sportsmediauk newsroom - and Marcus Stead wrote this passionate piece against it.

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