Football

EPL's 'Game 39' idea dead

England's top clubs remain keen to play competitive matches abroad but the idea of an additional round of fixtures outside the country is dead, Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore conceded yesterday.

Dubbed "Game 39", Scudamore's proposal to play an extra series of matches outside the league's traditional base was widely panned when it was proposed back in 2008.

While clubs remain interested in the concept, Scudamore believes it would just be impossible, politically and logistically, to accommodate an international round.

"Is there still a burning desire to do it? The clubs would like to do it.

"But we're also realistic that until the fan reaction or the political reaction or the general media reaction is more warm towards it, it's not going to happen," Scudamore told a small group of journalists in Hong Kong.

"If it did happen, it would never be a 39th game. It wouldn't be an extra game, but I think there would still be a desire to do a round of fixtures internationally.

"But there is no prospect of it happening any time soon or in anybody's realistic time frame. We have got no time for it.

"I'm a man of belief and I believe it was a good idea to try to do it then and I still believe it's a good idea to do it now, but I understand that it's unacceptable."

Scudamore added that the original suggestion was a genuine proposal and not just an attempt to stimulate debate within the English game.

The success of the Premier League Asia Trophy pre-season tournament played a key role in stimulating the debate over an international round of fixtures.

Original plans had been to play half the matches in this year's version in China - with Shanghai or Shenzhen the intended venue.

However, logistical issues meant Hong Kong was called upon to host the entire event for the fourth time. - REUTERS