THE 39TH GAME

United chief Gill dismisses prospect of 39th game

July 23, 2009
By Soccernet Staff

Manchester United chief executive David Gill says the idea of adding a 39th game to the Premier League calendar is unworkable, despite its popularity around the world.

David Gill
GettyImagesDavid Gill and Fergie on their Far East tour.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side are currently on their pre-season tour of the Far East and have recieved fanatical support in Malaysia and South Korea, with a trip to China to come at the weekend.

But although thousands of supporters are following United's every move, Gill says a resurrection of the controversial idea to stage another round of Premier League games at international venues is unlikely.

"If you are talking about a 39th game how do you get the symmetry? If it was the 38th whose home game would it be? How do you decide who will play where?

"The domestic competition is the domestic competition. The Premier League is the Premier League in England. The Premier League should still look at opportunities and ideas but I cannot see an extra game happening. It would be a step too far.''

GIll says there may still be scope for mid-season friendlies in far flung destinations, should the fixture list allow it.

United headed to Saudi Arabia to play a January testimonial and already Manchester City have confirmed they will play UAE in Abu Dhabi on November 12.

There are even whispers that United and Liverpool might be offered a tidy sum to renew traditional hostilities in India at some point before Christmas.

"Those games would naturally be more opportunistic in terms of how we are doing in any particular season,'' reflected Gill. "If, for any reason, there is a week or 10-day break in the fixture programme where Alex feels it would be beneficial to take a break, we would look at that.

"It would all be driven by the football side but we would not rule that out at all.''

Gill, meanwhile, insists United were correct to take the trip despite criticism of the schedule following the bombings and claims increased security will not affect future tours.

"Indonesia is a huge country. We have 28 million fans there,'' he said. "We took a lot of advice, researched it and spoke to the relevant people. No-one said don't go. If the authorities had done that, we would not have gone.

"Without doubt we made the right decision to go and, regrettable as it was, we made the right decision to pull out. Security will become a more important factor in future but I don't see a point where we will have to stop touring.

"We survive, take care and move forward.''