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By ESPN Staff
Feb 11, 2008

Scudamore outlines Premier League 'strategy'

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has attempted to reassure Barclays Premier League fans of the prudence of the proposed `international round', describing it as a 'strategic play' to stay ahead of the competition.

Scudamore insists the idea of extending the season to 39 games from 2010-11, with a round of matches taking place overseas is a progressive move aimed at retaining the league's status as the most globally popular footballing product.

The concept has attracted plenty of ire from fans and managers in England, but there have been a handful of voices welcoming the notion.

But Scudamore yesterday told BBC Radio Five: 'It allows us to grasp the globalisation nettle, which we cannot ignore.

'It is my duty not to ignore it. I would be criticised wholly if we let the league stray into the slow lane while others passed us in the fast lane.

'We have to do something. It is a strategic play.'

The plan currently envisages only one extra round of games hosted by five major cities across the world during one weekend in January.

But there are fears global success could lead to more overseas games being introduced.

Scudamore added: 'You can't sit here in the job I have and say never.

'We've said it is a six to 10-year deal and it will be three years before it starts. We think it is a 10-year play in terms of protecting our domestic position, because that's what it does.'

Meanwhile, last night saw reaction from two more regions on the idea - with spokesmen for both Qatar and Saudi Arabia commenting on the idea.

The general secretary of Saudi Arabia Football Association, Faisal Al Abdulhadi, declared an interest in the region hosting matches, but offered an overt preference for matches involving the big four.

He told PA Sport: 'It is a good idea to have such world-class matches outside England.

'However, there are certain requirements to make the idea successful in Saudi Arabia,' he added. 'The matches should have big teams from England like Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool and there should be a good marketing for the matches from companies here in Saudi Arabia.'

Ali Al Noaimi, assistant general secretary of Qatar Football Association, believes Premier League football would be welcomed in the area but admits they have not been approached.

'It would be a welcome addition for football in Qatar. However, personally, I don't think that this idea will be applied.

'We would love to have such a match here in Doha especially as there are a lot of fans who support English Premier League sides and there would be a lot of fans at such matches.'

'But we were not approached to have such matches and I don't think that we will be contacted because there are certain cities around the globe who were nominated to stage such matches.'