Scudamore: Prem's 39th game still possible

October 8, 2008

The Premier League's controversial '39th round' proposal could be resurrected at some stage in the future, according to chief executive Richard Scudamore.

Plans to host an overseas round of matches in five cities across the world from 2011 were originally unveiled in February but were scrapped after receiving a widespread hostile reception.

Yesterday, however, Scudamore revealed the proposal was by no means dead in the water.

''It is still there, being discussed and considered with the clubs,'' said Scudamore.

''We believe there is a future for clubs playing matches abroad. Audiences abroad are very sophisticated and know a lot about our clubs.

''Will it come back in the same form? It's unlikely but perhaps in a different form.''

Meanwhile Football Association chairman Lord Triesman is planning to tackle what he considers a dangerous amount of debt flooding through the game.

Revealing that English football was now some £3billion in the red, Triesman wants to implement some kind of restrictions in an attempt to prevent the concept of using borrowed money to buy clubs getting out of hand.

''We are in a more volatile position today because those who own the debt often have serious problems,'' he said.

''Their fate is not really in their own hands. I intend to put a proposal for a review of these areas in front of the FA board. I want to know who owns clubs.''

Triesman's comments were placed in sharp focus after the Icelandic bank chaired by West Ham's billionaire owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson was put in receivership, the latest victim of global financial turmoil.

The Icelandic government said it was taking control of Landsbanki, the island's second-largest bank. Gudmundsson led an £85million buyout of the London club in November 2006 and invested another £30.5million in West Ham in December 2007 after buying a further 5% stake.

Triesman is also uncomfortable about the Premier League's fit and proper persons charter for new club owners. Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's brief ownership of Manchester City was dogged by constant allegations emerging from his homeland.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has asked for help from Europe's lawmakers to draw up more stringent regulations governing who is permitted to seize control of clubs.

Triesman has some sympathy with this.

''If there is a prima facie case of someone's human rights record being regarded internationally as being very serious, it's reasonable to question whether that person should be running a football club,'' he said.

''Nobody has real confidence in what they cannot see. The fit and proper persons test does not do the job sufficiently robustly. A review is now inevitable because football clubs are not mere commodities. They are the abiding passion of their supporters. We forget that at our peril.''