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Sep 24, 2009

Scudamore: "More is good" for the Premier League

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has declared, in an exclusive interview with ESPN Soccernet, that "more is good", and that the richer it has got, the more competitive English football's top division has become. Such comments will come as a shock to those who attack the avarice of the Premier League clubs and label the whole institution as a league where "greed is good"; an echo of the 1980s mantra made popular by Oliver Stone's "Wall Street". Now, Scudamore has turned that phrase on its head with his "more is good" assessment. He explained: "It is plain for everyone to see that, taking the games individually, they are all extremely competitive, so therefore that must make the outcome of the league far less certain than it has been suggested. In my view the Premier League is now more competitive overall than it has ever been. "We have already had hugely memorable games. We've had massive upsets such as Burnley beating Manchester United. We've had a Manchester derby that Sir Alex Ferguson, who goes back quite a while, says was the best that he can recall. "We are getting matches that are captivating the imagination with their quality, but yet retaining their competitive edge. It is more competitive at the top, and more competitive from seventh or eight place all the way down to 20th. There is no real pattern, no real certainty virtually all the time, every weekend. "I have always said that the Premier League was competitive, few believed me, and it has been a criticism that the more money the worse it will get. That simply is not true. In fact the reverse has been the case. "We have never received more from our international TV rights, the sales are phenomenal, as well as our domestic rights. The rights are more valuable around the world than any other country, and I believe that is because our league is viewed around the world as the most competitive.

There might be a tiny island off the South Pacific somewhere where the Premier League doesn't reach, but I've not heard of it!
Richard Scudamore
"If we sell to more countries and up the income for the clubs, some say it is not healthy, however look at it this way: We now sell to 211 countries. There might be a tiny island off the South Pacific somewhere where the Premier League doesn't reach, but I've not heard of it! "We are in the middle of our latest rounds of negotiations to renew our overseas TV rights, and all the countries will be taking up their options, the Premier League is as popular than ever, perhaps even more so if that is possible." Those huge sums generated by TV rights make English football just about the richest in the world and Scudamore adds: "If we make £5 million a season more for the big clubs, that is hardly going to make much difference to them with their huge income streams from so many sources. It has minimal effect. But £5 million a year for the smaller clubs, well, that is an awful lot of money and that is a big enough sum to make them more competitive. So, I would say that more is good, not bad, for the competitive nature of the Premier League." Even in this darkest of recessions the expected downturn in attendances has not materialised. Some clubs have held their prices, some have even dropped them, and no doubt that has been a huge influence. Scudamore revealed: "Attendances are looking good, really good, they are right on par with last season, and that is more than good under the current circumstances. Also, you have to allow for the fact that the Premier League has lost Newcastle, which gives a slight false look to attendances as their gates are so big. "Yet, I can tell you that occupancy rates are over 92%, which is the same as last year. No one is going to knock those figures. Tell me if the hotel industry has a 92% occupancy rate in the current climate. I would doubt it very much."

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