Guest Author - Alice Jones
The 20 clubs of the English Premier League are said to be considering a proposal to play some matches overseas. The suggestion is to include actual competitive matches that will count towards the Premier League during the course of the season.
It is unlikely that a decision will be made before the end of the current season, but according to reports it is being taken very seriously by the owners of all 20 Premier League clubs. They have voted unanimously to explore the idea further.
Playing games abroad will no doubt be a huge money spinner, cashing in on existing interest in the English Premier League around the world. The extra money generated from TV and merchandise would probably be split equally among the 20 clubs. Some have argued that it should go back into grass roots football, but this is unlikely given the market nature of the current climate in soccer.
The full details of the plan are sketchy and nothing has been fully finalised yet, but seems to consist of extending the season by an an extra match, probably in January, which will take the total of matches of the season up to 39 for each team.
While it will probably generate mixed feelings amongst English supporters if it gets the go ahead, it will undoubtedly be very popular with fans abroad who want to watch soccer from the EPL live.
This will present 10 extra games in total which would be played at venues around the world. At this stage it is thought that the United States, Australia and Asia would be the favourites to host the additional matches. 5 Cities will each host 2 games over a weekend of fixtures.
These fixtures could be determined by a draw similar to FA Cup fixtures but it is thought that the top five teams would be seeded to avoid playing each other.
This would almost certainly be unpopular with fans at home, as it would present an unfair advantage to the bigger and more succesful clubs. It presents a possibility of a relegation fight being decided abroad because of the 3 points lost during the extra game against the larger club.
It could also decide the outcome of the Premiership title, although with seeding, this is less likely to affect the top of the table race than the struggle for survival at the bottom of the league.
It does seem inevitable with the demands of TV companies, and the new foreign owners that have come into the English Premier League, that sooner rather than later we will see Premier League matches exported abroad.
A strong argument against is that the EPL is already very successful worldwide, and does not need the extra revenue. Perhaps it is greed, but also it is most certainly progress, and that is very hard to fight against.
Some will argue that English football is losing it's soul, others might think it is better to go with the flow and enjoy the ride.