Wednesday, February 13, 2008

English Teams Playing Overseas

The chief executive of the English Premier League, Richard Scudamore, wants every team in his league to play one game a year overseas, presumably in rich countries that don't have top-level soccer leagues of their own, like the USA, Japan, China, and so on.

Much as I'd like to see Tottenham play here in Seattle where I could see them, I think this is a terrible, terrible idea. It will among other things throw the perfect balance of home and away games into the toilet, with some teams gaining an unfair advantage. And, like all schemes of this type, it's only going to be successful for some teams and not others. Huge crowds will turn out for Manchester United anywhere they go (which means it will always be an away game for their opponent), but are you really going to sell a lot of tickets for Derby v. Bolton in St. Louis?

It's just another way for the top clubs to corner even more of the market than they already have. It does nothing for the smaller clubs, nothing for American soccer, and nothing for English football.

Michel Platini, president of UEFA, and Sepp Blatter of FIFA are resisting this idea. Here's my suggestion:

Tell Scudamore he can play his games anywhere he likes, but if he plays them outside of England, Premier League teams will be barred from the Champions League.

End of argument.

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