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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 8, 2008

Fergie fury at Premier League global project

Sir Alex Ferguson is angry that club managers, including himself, were not consulted before the Premier League made public their plans for an 'international round' of matches.

WHAT THEY SAID...

'We will only go where we are welcome. We will also only do this if it is sanctioned' - Premier League chief Richard Scudamore

'Can you imagine going to Fergie (Sir Alex Ferguson) and telling him 'by the way, you're not playing at home this week, you are playing in Japan'? I'd like to see it!' - Wigan manager Steve Bruce

'I have to say, I think it is great. Change is good sometimes. Obviously, it depends who you are playing in that extra game - if we were playing one of the top four, I might argue then' - Sunderland boss Roy Keane.

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

'We mustn't disguise the fact that all clubs have overseas fans, the Premier League is broadcast to 200 countries on a weekly basis and therefore it's not just the domestic fans we need to think about' - Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy

'From a player's point of view, it's daunting. It will certainly take its toll physically if we are flying halfway around the world and back before starting domestically again' - Derby midfielder Robbie Savage

'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' - Birmingham co-owner David Gold

'This displays a complete disregard not for the proud traditions of the English game as well as a crass lack of consideration for football supporters in general' - Football Supporters' Federation chairman Malcolm Clarke

'It would be like the Harlem Globetrotters!' - Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp

'It is obviously a marketing thing. I would have to have a clearer picture of what is behind this marketing idea - I would have to find out more about it' - Fulham boss Roy Hodgson

'I think it's great. I don't think it will be a huge problem and the benefits far outweigh the cons' - Bolton manager Gary Megson

The Manchester United manager refused to give his view on the plan, which would see every top-flight club play an extra match a season in a foreign city.

The 20 clubs voted in principle to explore the proposal, which would take effect from the 2010-11 season.

Ferguson said: 'What disappoints me is [United chief executive] David Gill phoned me and said 'keep this quiet, we are going to discuss it' and then it's all over the papers this morning.

'They can't keep their mouth shut down there.

'I think if they are going to do these things they should have been enquiring and having discussions with managers and players before they come out with all this stuff and make an issue of it.

'These issues should be discussed internally by clubs before they come to this position we are today but until I speak to David Gill again I have nothing more to say about it.'

Ferguson was 'delighted' however that the Premier League will allow a bench of seven substitutes rather than six from next season.

He added: 'I have said that for years. It should be 11 subs on the bench, as most clubs carry a squad of 22 or 23 players. At least this helps.

'Last Sunday at Tottentham we had players sitting in the stands who could have been on the bench contributing something towards the team.'

Sunderland boss Roy Keane has thrown his weight behind the Premier League plans.

He said: 'I have to say, I think it is great. Change is good sometimes.

'Obviously, it depends who you are playing in that extra game - if we were playing one of the top four, I might argue then.

'Change is good sometimes. The Premier League has been brilliant.

'(Chief executive) Mr (Peter) Scudamore spoke last night and I thought he spoke brilliantly.

'They will look at a few proposals, they will do everything properly - and it is three years away.

'I have got enough on my plate trying to get Wigan out of the way, I cannot worry too much about that.

'But in terms of the bigger picture - and please God, we are in there with a shout with Sunderland - then it is progress and I think we should all be trying to be positive about it.

'Hopefully by then, Sunderland will be a lot bigger - you never know, by then, we might be one of the top five clubs then, so it will be one we will look forward to.

It would be good, wouldn't it? We are hoping if we don't break in by then, we are getting bigger and stronger.'

Meanwhile, Chelsea manager Avram Grant has warned the Premier League to think carefully about taking the English game across the globe.

'I think it is an interesting idea,' he said. 'Everybody likes the Premier League, including many places in the world. I need to think about this. It is interesting.

'On one hand I think the Premier League has to be played in England but on the other so many people around the world like it.

'I can see why people are concerned but many people are happy about it too. I am a big fan of the NBA and they decided to play in Europe. That had positive and not so positive signs.

'One part of this is the travelling but I don't have a clear answer about this. I have not spoken to (chief executive) Peter Kenyon about it but I am sure I will.

'I am sure if the Premier League decide to play these games, they will fix it so that it is not a big problem and they will think about it. It will not be easy. We have to think in the long term whether it will be good or not.'