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By ESPN Staff

Platini brands overseas Premier League plan a joke

LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - UEFA president Michel Platini has attacked the English Premier League's plans to consider staging league matches overseas, describing the proposal as a joke.

'It's a strange and comical idea, the former France playmaker was quoted as saying in an interview with Saturday's Daily Telegraph. 'I laughed because it will never be received by FIFA, by the fans and by the national associations.

'It's a nonsense idea... Soon you will have in England no English presidents (of clubs), you already have no English (national team) coach, you have no English players and maybe now you will have no clubs playing in England. It's a joke.'

A new 'International Round' of Premier League fixtures, to be staged over one weekend in January in cities that bid for the host rights, would extend the Premier League season to 39 matches for each of the clubs from 38 by the 2010-11 season.

The plan, which all 20 clubs agreed to explore, has met a chorus of disapproval from fans and the British media and has received a mixed reception from club managers.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the BBC in an interview to be broadcast on Saturday the validity of the proposal depends on its benefit to supporters.

World soccer's governing body FIFA said it would look at the plan when its executive committee meets on March 14.

But a spokesman said on Thursday that 'at first glance it would seem the Premier League will find it difficult to get its way'.

Platini told the Telegraph he had discussed the proposals with FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Friday and they agreed that exporting European club matches to parts of the world where the game was developing would stifle progress in those countries.

'We share the same idea that it's the responsibility of the national associations, and I am sure they will never accept it because it's not good for football.

'I think the FA (Football Association) of England will oppose it,' Platini added.

'The beauty of football is you have some values, you have the teams, you have the fans, you represent something important and you are not a travelling circus.'