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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb, 13, 2008

Now Australians block 39th 'International Round'

The proposed international round of Premier League matches has received a further blow with Football Federation Australia (FFA) joining in the chorus saying they would not support the concept. The Premier League are exploring a plan that would see an extra 10 fixtures played every January from the 2010-11 season onwards, extending the domestic campaign to 39 games. A number of cities around the world have been mooted as possible destinations to stage the 10 matches - particularly in North America, Asia and Australia. But the plans have not received the wholesale approval the Premier League will have hoped for, with national and regional associations including the United States Soccer Federation and the Asian Football Confederation voicing their opposition to the plans. FFA are the latest to indicate their concerns, with chairman Frank Lowy saying he saw no great benefit to Australia hosting any Premier League matches and reiterating the association's priorities were with the continuing development of the A-League. 'We said when this issue first arose last week that FFA's overwhelming priority is to promote the Hyundai A-League and to continue to invest in, and grow, the game in Australia,' Lowy said. 'That remains our view.' Lowy said any move to play a Premier League game in Australia would be seen as an intrusion on the local product. 'The bottom line is, FFA rejects the notion of another country playing a round of their domestic competition in Australia and intruding on the development of the Hyundai A-League and the game in Australia,' added Lowy. Chief executive Ben Buckley backed Lowy but admitted FFA are still keen to stage exhibition matches in Australia involving teams from Europe. 'However, our overriding objective is to build equity in the Hyundai A-League and everything we do is assessed against that objective,' said Buckley.

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