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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 27, 2008

FA's World Cup bid safe after 'Game 39' stall?

The Premier League's decision to pull out of their visit to FIFA to push plans for overseas matches should put England's bid for the 2018 World Cup back on track.

The League's plans for a 39th game in a foreign city have been effectively sent back to the drawing board after they withdrew from the trip to see FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

The decision should prevent controversy over the proposals affecting the official launch of England's bid for the 2018 World Cup, which is expected at the end of next month.

Blatter had already displayed vehement opposition to the `39th step' and said the bid could be affected.

The Premier League are adamant the idea is still alive, but accept the proposals need to be 'developed' and that they will not push ahead without FIFA's approval.

The league said in a statement: 'Having consulted with FIFA, we have decided to delay our planned visit whilst we conduct further work prior to addressing them and their confederations formally.

'We sincerely believe that the Premier League has much to offer the development of the game internationally, as witnessed by the many federations and leagues that currently seek our involvement and advice.

'There never has been a rush to conclude these matters and we are more than willing to take time to develop our proposals further before seeking approval, without which it is not our intention to proceed.'

Football Association chairman Lord Triesman, who revealed last week the FA's board viewed the proposals as 'unsustainable', was due to accompany the visit to FIFA, who welcomed the Premier League's decision.

A statement from the world governing body read: 'FIFA has been advised by the English Premier League that the league, accompanied by senior representatives of the English FA, does not seek a meeting with FIFA at this time to discuss the project of a 39th match day to be played abroad.

'FIFA welcomes the Premier League's decision and initiative, which re-establishes the positive and constructive relations between the FA, the FA Premier League and world football's governing body.'

Three weeks ago, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore announced a year-long consultation process before the 20 clubs voted on a final proposal.

It now looks as though entirely new plans will be needed - and perhaps even put before FIFA prior to being made public.

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