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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 20, 2008

FA highlight four problems with '39th step' plan

Football Association chairman Lord Triesman has highlighted four areas of concern about the Premier League's plans for an 'international round' of matches.

The FA board meet tomorrow to discuss the so-called '39th step' and Triesman, who became the first independent chairman of the organisation earlier this month, made clear to a committee of MPs yesterday there are major obstacles to the proposals going ahead.

These included ensuring there is no adverse impact on England's 2018 World Cup bid, on fixture congestion or on the fortunes of the national team.

Triesman said: 'Firstly, whatever is proposed must not damage the domestic competitions or prospects of the national team.

'Fixture congestion is a real issue and I have not seen solutions to this yet.

'Secondly, I am quite clear that the relationships with international bodies have to be sustained, not just because of England's bid for the 2018 World Cup, although that is very significant for us and it would be foolish of anyone to pretend that it is not.

'Thirdly, there has to be a real sense of comfort among the whole football family, fans included, that it is a viable and credible proposal.

'Fourthly, people should feel that whatever happens does not induce the kind of unfairness that may mean that their side, which is perhaps fighting relegation, has a third game against a side which would probably do them some damage in the average encounter.'

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore was due to meet his FA counterpart Brian Barwick today to talk him through the details of the proposals.

Scudamore did admit for the first time that the plan for clubs to play a 39th game in a foreign city may have to be scrapped but insisted it is not yet 'a dead duck'.

He was quizzed by a committee of MPs, some of whom described the plans variously as 'daft', 'barmy' and 'bent'.

Scudamore, who hopes to fly to Zurich next week to persuade FIFA president Sepp Blatter of the benefits of the plan, said: 'Clearly, we are not going to take this forward if it in any way does not meet with some form of acquiescence from FIFA.

'Certainly, the FA and the Football League will also have to be comfortable with whatever move and whatever direction we take.

'If it's deemed not to be worth it, we will think again about our global expansion.'

But he added: 'It's certainly not a dead duck - it has only just started and we have only had 10 days of a year-long consultation process.

'This is a set of proposals which is a work in progress and, yes, it has had some hostile reaction - but it's still in its infancy.'