Premier League Clubs Considering Playing A “39th Game” Abroad

From ESPN FC:

The Premier League is aiming to resurrect its global expansion plan to play regular-season matches in foreign countries, according to an Associated Press report.

The idea of taking Premier League matches “on tour” around the globe was first mooted in 2008 and promoted as the “39th game,” which was to be an extra game added to the league calendar but played outside of England.

On Wednesday, people with knowledge of the situation told the AP that clubs have now asked the league to conduct a feasibility study into global expansion options. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions have been in private.

When asked about Premier League pre-season or even regular season games abroad, United managing director Richard Arnold told the AP: “That’s still an area that’s under some development. You’ve seen on the tour the engagement we get abroad.”

It is understandable why this idea was originally put on the table and why it is potentially back on the table. Top clubs have made a lot of money playing overseas friendlies and the NFL has also made a lot of money playing one regular season game a year in London. Logic stands to reason that if a off-season friendly can earn the club lots of money then a meaningful regular season game can be even more lucrative. However, supporters groups would be unwilling to give up a home-game to play abroad so the proposition suggest adding a 39th game to be played abroad. As an American fan of the Premier League I admit I hope this will happen but also as an American fan of the NFL I can see the negatives of playing a meaningful regular-season game abroad. Despite the opinions of supporters though this will probably find a way to be pushed through because it is too much money to leave on the table. The only compromise will be playing the Community Shield match abroad after the contract with Wimbledon ends in 2018 but this will probably not be enough to satiate the masses.

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