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Weekend Premier League predictions

Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

JFA opposed to Premier League plan

The Japan Football Association have voiced their opposition to the Premier League's proposal to stage matches overseas, calling the concept 'problematic'.

England's top-tier competition outlined an ambitious scheme to stage an international round of fixtures that would see 10 competitive matches hosted in five major cities over the course of one weekend.

The 20 Barclays Premier League clubs have unanimously agreed to further explore a proposal which would see the number of games in a season increased from 38 to 39, starting from the 2010-11 season, with Tokyo touted as one of a number of possible global destinations.

However, JFA vice-president Junji Ogura was quick to play down the possibility of the Premier League staging fixtures in Japan.

'It sounds problematic,' Ogura said.

'We are, in principle, opposed to having their [Premier League] games in Japan as we have to protect our league and clubs.

'In Japan, we don't allow anyone to play a match that involves only foreign clubs and no Japanese clubs.'

Ogura, a member of FIFA's executive committee, revealed that the JFA have turned down previous requests from Serie A and other leagues to stage exhibition matches in the country without the involvement of Japanese clubs.

'I don't think we will change our minds,' Ogura continued.

'You cannot have your matches outside your region without having an approval from the relevant confederation and national association.

'I don't know if the AFC [Asian Football Confederation] will give approval to the Premier League's overseas matches, but they may well oppose the Premier League's plans in order to protect their own associations.

'This issue can be brought to the table at the AFC Executive Committee meeting in March.'

He added: 'I also wonder if [playing regular-season matches abroad] would be really good for them [the Premier League].'

The J. League, Japan's domestic football competition, declined to comment on the matter.