Swansea chief favours overseas matches
08 October 2014, 20:49
London - The chairman of Premier League side Swansea has reportedly said English top-flight matches will be staged abroad within two years.
There has long been a view within English football that the huge global popularity of the Premier League, particularly in the Far East and United States where Manchester United recently drew huge crowds on their pre-season tour would be a commercial bonanza for Premier League clubs.
However, plans for an overseas '39th game' were dropped in 2008 following opposition from supporters' groups and FIFA and UEFA, football's global and European governing bodies respectively, who were concerned about the impact of such a move upon domestic leagues.
But now there are suggestions some of the existing, rather than additional, league fixtures could be staged overseas and Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins, speaking at a fans' forum with his comments reported on the walesonline website, said: "I think it is inevitable it is going to happen.
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"While we may not be 100 percent about it, as passionate football supporters just watching football as we have, it's going to be a big change.
"The other side of that is we have got to make sure we are on the bandwagon with them or we are going to get left behind otherwise.
"There's definitely going to be a run of games played abroad in 12 months or two years.
"Whatever happens with the changes in the Premier League, we have got to be finishing high enough to be part of it," added Jenkins, whose side are currently fifth in the table.
"That's where it's going to be and where the money is.
"It's a sad reflection of where football is but unless we are part of that, it's inevitable we are going to fall behind.
"We have got to make sure, whether we like it or not, we are on board with it," Jenkins insisted.
A spokesman for England's Football Supporters Federation insisted they remained opposed to Premier League matches being staged abroad.
"Once again the idea of potentially huge changes to the game has arisen without consultation with one of the groups that matters most, the fans," the spokesman told the BBC.
"If the reaction to previous incarnations of 'Game 39' and the idea of matches overseas are anything to go by, we expect this proposal to be met with the strongest possible opposition from supporters."
But Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, speaking about the concept at a pre-season event in August, said it was just a matter of time.
"The clubs wanted it then (in 2008) and they would all probably want it now" he said.
"It will happen at some point. Whether it's on my watch, who knows?"