'2018 World Cup not under threat' - Scudamore
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore insists controversial plans to take matches overseas will not jeopardise England's bid for the 2018 World Cup. The Football Association last night expressed 'serious reservations' about proposals to play league matches - a 39th round of fixtures - in venues across the world. They currently believe the proposal - criticised by FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Thursday - has not yet harmed the World Cup bid but the matter will be discussed at a scheduled board meeting next Thursday. However, they are clearly mindful of the detrimental impact which could be caused by a decision to press ahead with the idea in the face of opposition from FIFA and the game as a whole. Scudamore, however, said he felt there had been something of an over-reaction. 'We were told we would have the opportunity to talk to the FIFA president about our proposal,' he said. 'I do not see how there can be speculation about the possible impact on the 2018 World Cup campaign until this meeting has taken place.' Scudamore is also determined to meet Blatter face to face to put across the advantages of the plans. 'I want to explain the reasons for this proposal to Mr Blatter because I do not think, on the information he will have received so far, he has been given a chance to understand it, or what benefits there would be for the game in England and beyond,' he told The Times. 'I am not sure he knows the wealth we generate beyond our league, such as the £124million that filters down through the game over here.' Earlier this month it was announced Premier League clubs had unanimously agreed to further examine a proposal which would create a new round of 10 competitive fixtures to be played across the world over one weekend in January, beginning in the 2010-11 season. However, the FA cited the importance of international relations as a major factor in citing their concerns. 'As a national association we also recognise the authority of FIFA and its executive committee,' said the statement. 'We have heard the criticism from supporters and the objections raised by others in the worldwide football family. 'The Football Association has worked extremely hard for several years to improve our relationships and standing with FIFA and UEFA, and has largely succeeded. 'Clearly we do not want this extensive work to be damaged. We also do not want the Premier League's proposal to affect England's 2018 World Cup bid in any way. At this time, due to the Football Association's strong international relations, we do not believe it has.' The statement also said: 'We can confirm that the Football Association did speak to FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke about this matter yesterday. We explained that while we had received a verbal summary on the subject, at this time we are not in possession of any detailed proposals from the Premier League to pass on to FIFA. 'It was also made clear to FIFA that the Football Association has some serious reservations about the proposal. We have a responsibility to the whole of English football and we have to consider any wider consequences and implications that this proposal may create.' FIFA will examine the proposals at their executive committee meeting on March 14 while UEFA president Michel Platini has already hit out at the idea. Associations and officials in countries which could potentially stage overseas matches have given a distinctly lukewarm response while views are mixed in the English top flight. Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez and chief executive Rick Parry are firmly opposed to the idea, while Chelsea boss Avram Grant was more open to the idea: 'If everything is right I don't see any negative things about this.' Former England captain David Beckham urged the Premier League to 'ask the fans, ask the players and go from there'.