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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 7, 2008

Birmingham owener Gold keen on overseas plan

Birmingham co-owner David Gold has described the Premier League's plan to play matches overseas as 'amazingly exciting'.

A meeting of the clubs agreed in principle to the idea, which proposes an extra round of matches involving every Barclays Premier League team staged in cities across the world.

The games would be played one weekend in January beginning in the 2010-11 season.

Gold told BBC Radio Five Live: 'We're investigating it, it sounds a very exciting possibility. I think it will be great for the Premier League.

'It's one game and gives the opportunity, particularly to smaller clubs, to take your brand and take it global and I find that very exciting.

'The Premier League, which is the greatest league the world has ever known, is being adventurous, looking forward, looking to take a brand - which is an English brand - and looking to take it global.

'I think that's very exciting. It's all proposals, we'll all be discussing the pros and cons, but I think the idea is very worthy of consideration. I find it amazingly exciting.'

Fans' groups have criticised the proposal for putting financial considerations ahead of tradition, but Gold disagreed.

'I don't think you're getting rid of the history, I think you're creating history,' he said.

'This is a new opportunity - we already have one-off games in cup competitions so you're adding a new dimension.'

It has been suggested the top five teams will be seeded to avoid each other, with matches drawn at random.

Gold said: 'I'm sure there'll be many proposals on how it's structured but a form of seeding, as long as everybody buys into the idea, I don't have a problem with that.

'I can't see another way of doing it. I expect it will be not dissimilar to a cup competition, the balls go in the basket and you pull out your ball and hope you get the team you want.

'I don't think the idea's brand new, I think you're taking a tried and trusted philosophy and applying it to a whole new, exciting project.'

Gold believes cities in Asia and America will be the prime candidates to host matches should the plan go ahead.

'They would be the easier areas- America certainly would be very exciting,' Gold added.

'It would be relatively easy. If you go to Spain, for example, you'd have difficulty in getting approval, but America, I'm sure you'd get approval, they'd love to see the Premier League there.

'Asia is a good opportunity too, but as long as it's in the sun I really don't mind.'

Andy Burnham, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, warned the Premier League to tread carefully.

Burnham said: 'English football is hugely popular around the world, and I understand the Premier League's desire to take the game to new audiences.

'But the implications of this proposal go beyond the Premier League and careful consideration is needed before any decisions are made.

'Staging a part of our domestic league competition in other countries raises issues for supporters and football authorities here and around the world. Playing an extra game also raises questions about the integrity of our competition.

'I intend to meet with the Premier League to discuss these concerns, and I will urge them to listen closely to the views of the FA, players and supporters.

'They also need to consider the views of world football including, UEFA, FIFA and the national leagues and associations where the games will be played.

'In my view any benefits would need to be shared widely, so that money and merchandise don't take priority over the interests of supporters in this country.

'The Premier League brings great benefits to Britain. But its success today is established on the tradition of local club support, built up over generations. The game must never forget its roots.'

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