Newspapers condemn Premier League global plan

February 8, 2008

LONDON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - The Premier League's plan to play matches overseas has achieved the rare distinction of uniting the popular and heavyweight press, with almost universal condemnation in Britain's newspapers on Friday.

'For Sale, our national game,' said The Mirror, adding 'outrage at greedy plan'.

'Football's sold its soul,' said The Express, 'Global warning' - The Sun, 'They're killing our game,' - Daily Mail.

The Independent weighed in with 'Chase for cash threatens to rob game of founding principle,' while The Times said 'Fans furious at Premier League plans for world domination.'

In a comment piece the Daily Telegraph said that the plan was a bargaining chip to be used by the Premier League in discussions with the FA over giving players more time off from league games before internationals.

Every paper carried reaction from managers and former players, most condemning the idea for its logistical problems as well as an example of the game moving ever further from its traditional fan base.

'It's bad enough with international friendlies, let alone going overseas,' Wigan Athletic boss Steve Bruce said.

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate asked: 'Is it April 1? I find it highly unlikely it would happen. I wouldn't think it would be a realistic proposition.'

However, not everyone was writing it off and Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn was among those who said it was an idea worth investigating.

'I think the time is right to explore the opportunity of bringing the brand around the world but some people have jumped to conclusions,' he said.

'There are a lot of stakeholders to consult, the biggest one being our fans but it's tantalising and off the top of my head I would say it's the correct decision.'

Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) chairman Malcolm Clarke labelled the proposals 'ludicrous'.

'The FSF has no doubt whatsoever the vast majority of supporters are against this and believe it would drag the Premier League into the realms of farce,' Clarke said.

'When this ludicrous idea was first mooted last year we ran a poll and 80 percent were in complete opposition.

'I think that figure will go even higher now that the full ridiculousness of the Premier League's proposals of how this would actually work has been revealed.

'Basically, it's a case of 'We've had their money here, now where else can we get people to put their hands in their pockets?' The sole motivation for this is the Premier League to make more money - aren't they making enough already?'