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Oct 24, 2008

Scudamore hits back at Gartside plans

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has slammed Bolton chairman Phil Gartside's proposal that the top-flight should eliminate relegation to avoid clubs going bust.

"Relegation is the best thing that happens in our league and the worst thing that happens. It keeps the season alive and keeps a whole lot of interest. If a team is in danger of relegation they are living in fear," he insisted.

Speaking at a Global Sports Summit in London, with Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, whose format does not feature relegation, Scudamore added:

"It is the fundamental difference why we can't copy you [the NFL] and you Can't copy us.

"Our league is a ladder to the leagues below and an escalator to European competition above.

"The whole raison d'être of the way the league was set up is to build a ladder."

Goodell revealed the NFL had been looking on the format of relegation with Interest, but added it would not fit their structure.

At present in the NFL, the worst team at the end of the season gets first draft pick of the best college players.

Scudamore also claimed the controversial plan to play top-flight English league matches overseas could still come to fruition.

"Globalisation of sport is here, it's been here for a while and this is just the next manifestation of it," he said.

"We knew the reaction would be somewhat extreme and we knew it was going to be difficult, maybe not as quite as difficult, but clearly we have been looking at this for some time.

"It would be ridiculous of me to say the reaction hasn't moved us back to, if not to the drawing board, then certainly the think tank. It has probably pushed the timelines back.

"But in terms of playing meaningful games abroad, hopefully it will happen within my lifetime, hopefully within my soccer administration career."

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon added that clubs had a duty to support the Premier League in trying to grow its global appeal, although he said the concept of a 39th game still had to be properly worked out.

"The idea of the 39th game got out of the box without a proper rationale or way that it would work," he said.

"Clearly the reaction was resounding in that people did not want it. But as we see with the NFL coming here the top sports are finding ways to take their product and their game internationally.

"It would be remiss of the Premier League not to evaluate it and is part of Richard's job to make sure the Premier League moves forward and we will be supportive of that.''

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