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May, 10, 2011

Scudamore wanted deal for 'Game 39'

Lord Triesman told the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee that the Premier League was reluctant to back the bid for the 2018 World Cup finals unless the Football Association supported the controversial plans for the 39th game.

• Warner hits back at Triesman claims
• FIFA members 'paid $1.5m for votes'
• Triesman accuses four FIFA members

Premier League chief executive Scudamore was determined to push through his plans for an additional league game to be played across the globe, but the controversial idea was universally rejected. Triesman claims that Scudamore hoped to use the World Cup bid to help change minds.

He told the MPs: "The Premier League took a very long time to come on board. It was put to me by [league chief executive] Richard Scudamore that if I thought the 39th Game was a good idea they would have come on board much earlier.''

Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards did eventually become a bid director before resigning less than a year later, causing a crisis in the bid.

Triesman added: "Sir Dave did come on and did a lot of travelling for the bid which I was very grateful for. When he did resign however he was shaking an already rather shaky machine.''

Triesman added that he had been shocked to read that a family company linked to Richards had won a contract from England 2018 to provide bid merchandise.

"I was very surprised. I would expect a declaration of interest by anyone whose business was supplying anything to us, regardless of value,'' Triesman said. "That was a guideline in the FA board.''

Mike Lee, formerly communications director of the Premier League, UEFA and London's 2012 Olympic bid, told MPs that England 2018 had failed to learn the lessons of the unsuccessful 2006 bid, or take good practice from London 2012's successful one.

He said mistakes included having a bid chairman who was also FA chairman, not having an independent bid company, appearing arrogant and failing to get across the right messages.

"It was never clear what the overall strategy or compelling message of what England could offer football was,'' Lee said. "It sounded very arrogant, that we are the best, we have the most passionate fans - try telling that to people from Brazil and Argentina - and we have the Premier League so we must be the best.''

He also said there was no "rush of activity'' from the highest levels of Government in supporting the bid in the way Tony Blair helped London's Olympic bid.

However, Scudamore later rejected Triesman's claim that the Premier League's support of the bid had been conditional on FA support of the 39th game, or international round as the Premier League termed the idea.

Scudamore said in a statement: "I am afraid David's recollection of the facts and the chronology is simply wrong in this instance. I was, along with my organisation and our member clubs, always in full support of England's bid for the FIFA 2018 World Cup.

"It was discussed at numerous club meetings and that support was never made conditional on the international round concept, or anything else for that matter.

"In fact the league and its clubs had moved on from the idea of an international round some time before the FA started structuring the 2018 bid company and associated positions.

"I will be writing to the select committee to provide them with the accurate facts in this matter."

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