The Premier League has revealed that it is considering bold plans to add an extra round of games which would be staged outside England.
The top-flight clubs have agreed to explore the proposals, which could come into effect for the 2010/11 season.
So what has been the reaction to the plans from around the game? Here are a selection of comments so far from chairmen, coaches and fans.
WHAT THEY SAY IN BRITAIN
“What disappoints me is (United chief executive) David Gill phoned me and said ‘keep this quiet, we are going to discuss it’ and then it’s all over the papers this morning. They can’t keep their mouth shut down there.
“I think if they are going to do these things, they should have been enquiring and having discussions with managers and players before they come out with all this stuff and make an issue of it.”
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
“I’m not against an innovative attitude if it respects the competitive side of our league, if it respects the fans and promotes the quality of our Premier League.”
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
“I don’t necessarily think it is a bad thing. From what I understand, it has been well thought out. The trouble with a lot of people is when something new comes into the arena, they want to find reasons to knock it. I am not against change.”
Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan
“I think it’s common sense that teams should do one match abroad every year. I don’t have a problem with it at all. The fans are extremely lucky that they see a wonderful array of foreign talent playing here in England.”
Reading chairman John Madejski
“Clubs could become like the Harlem Globetrotters. It will start with one game and then next year or the year after until eventually I can see us playing quite a few games in different parts of the world.”
Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp
“Football fans around the world are more sophisticated than they’ve been before and everyone wants to see the real thing. This is why when the NFL went to London they took the real thing and that is why the Premier League wants to export the real thing. There is a thirst for Premier League games.”
MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis
“The Premier League is the biggest, strongest league in the world and the most financially successful but that doesn’t mean it always sits cosily with other interests and one of those interests is the England international team.
“What is becoming paramount is the need for a midwinter break but instead of that, the gap is going to be used to extend the demands on players.”
Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor
“In principle, it sounds like a great idea – bring more money into the clubs – but on the other side, people will say they are already making enough money. I think our team made £50m last year so how much more do they need? That’s what the fans are going to say because they have season tickets and they want to see every game.”
Reading goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann
“We are making history. The Premier League, which is the greatest league the world has ever known, is being adventurous. I find this amazingly exciting.”
Birmingham co-owner David Gold
“All that was decided that as a major league, it is something that we ought to examine. We do have lots of overseas fans that are unable to come to matches played in the UK so I think it is something that should be explored.”
Tottenham chief executive Daniel Levy
“We have only agreed to explore something, nothing more than that. When we find out more I’ll be able to tell you if it is a good idea. We really are at step A and not step B or C.”
Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn
“This is purely down to money. The Premier League want more money from global advertising rights. As a player, the league schedule is as congested as it ever has been. The notion that teams could go through a hectic December and January with one then going off to play in Cairo and another in Los Angeles – with all the travelling and commitments – is absolute nonsense.”
Former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore
“It’s bad enough with international friendlies, let alone going overseas. I read the other day that games are going out to 22 or 23 countries. It’s quite unbelievable, it gets everywhere, so I wouldn’t be surprised, although there will be a few irate people. Can you imagine going to Fergie (Sir Alex Ferguson) and telling him ‘by the way, you’re not playing at home this week, you are playing in Japan’? I’d like to see it!”
Wigan manager Steve Bruce
“Is it April 1? I find it highly unlikely it would happen. I wouldn’t think it would be a realistic proposition.”
Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate
“It is obviously a marketing thing. I would have to have a clearer picture of what is behind this marketing idea – I would have to find out more about it. One extra game of football a year, as long as the calendar can be sorted out, that doesn’t seem to be a deal-breaker – but I have no real opinions at the moment on whether it is a good deal or a bad deal.”
Fulham boss Roy Hodgson
“The fans here will be up in arms and other national associations won’t be too happy about the Premier League coming to their domain and taking sponsors, advertising and revenue from what is their game.
“I managed Fulham when we went to this tournament in Hong Kong with Liverpool and Portsmouth and the fans were so wrapped in it. We played our two games in front of 40,000 people purely because Liverpool were there. How much of a draw smaller teams would be, I’m not sure.”
Former Northern Ireland and Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez
“I challenge the Premier League to abandon this proposal if it turns out that the majority of supporters are opposed to it and that would be my confident prediction.
“This game relies on having supporters in the ground and when the day comes that they completely think that match-going fans are of no value, then that’s the day when the game will severely suffer.”
Malcolm Clarke, co-chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation
“From rugby league’s perspective, we are very keen to take any opportunity to showcase our sport around the country and Europe. We have found that rugby league supporters have responded positively to the opportunities that have been presented to them. The key is to make it an extra fixture, and not a replacement for a home game.”
Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood
WHAT THEY SAY AROUND THE WORLD
“It sounds problematic. We are, in principle, opposed to having Premier League games in Japan as we have to protect our league and clubs. In Japan, we don’t allow anyone to play a match that involves only foreign clubs and no Japanese clubs.”
Japan Football Association vice-president Junji Ogura
“Football Federation Australia’s overwhelming priority is to promote the Hyundai A-League and to continue to invest in, and grow, the game in Australia.”
FFA chief executive Ben Buckley
“They can come over and play these games and people can come and check it out, but I think they are going to leave the stadium more often than not thinking: ‘You know what? I can get much better value and more excitement by going to see my Galaxy play.’ We do not have a monopoly on crap soccer – it’s played all over the world.”
Los Angeles Galaxy general manager Alexei Lalas
WHAT YOU SAY ON 606
“Will the money made from these matches be put back into our youth and grassroots football? Will the money from these games be put into lowering tickets so I can afford to watch my local team? These are the questions I want answering.”
“If this were to happen in Spain or Italy, we would look at their league as a joke. I think a lot of people will turn their back on the Premier League and follow the Championship or lower leagues.”
“One extra match a season? – I thought everybody in the game was bleating about playing too many matches.”
“It is good because it will help fans outside England to see their teams playing live. This will increase will the passion for Premier League.”
“Absolutely NOT. This is not the NFL. These proposals would make a mockery out of the competition.”
“There is already deep unrest in the Premier League with fans feeling more and more distanced from players and clubs. Overall this is a terrible idea and I’m not too sure foreigners would pay to see Birmingham play Wigan anyway.”
“Do it if you like, but it cannot count towards the league. It would have to be a friendly game – I wouldn’t want a team to be relegated based on having to play Man Utd in the ‘bonus’ overseas match.”
“I have no problem with this. No team would lose a home game, and there is potential for a holiday abroad with a football match in the middle of it! If the NFL can export the sport successfully to Britain, then why can’t we sell football to other countries?
“A ridiculous idea, motivated solely by money, and with scant regard for the fans.”
“Utterly disgusting. I don’t object to teams playing showcase games around the world but to suggest playing a random game in sweltering oriental heat that could possibly have a bearing on the title, Europe or relegation is ridiculous.”
“Why they feel this course of action is necessary I don’t know. There is already widespread complaints of fixture congestion so adding an extra game in a far off land hardly sees the way to go.
“The fans of smaller clubs should actually be applauding this idea. Think about it. Derby play the Gunners, in say Beijing, it stands to reason that some of the smaller clubs are going to get some major exposure, which will ultimately lead to extra revenue (shirt sales, etc).”
“There are SO MANY things wrong with this idea that I really can’t see it being agreed to, at least not without clubs facing an almighty backlash from the fans.”
“There are millions of English people living outside of England, especially here in USA. They would be thrilled to be able to attend a meaningful game involving ‘their’ team.”
“As soon as you introduce an additional game you remove the equality within the fixture list and the league becomes invalid. Why not use one of the cups to showcase abroad?”