Can regulator now stop Premier League matches getting played abroad after FIFA decision? | OneFootball

Can regulator now stop Premier League matches getting played abroad after FIFA decision? | OneFootball

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The Mag

·18 April 2024

Can regulator now stop Premier League matches getting played abroad after FIFA decision?

Article image:Can regulator now stop Premier League matches getting played abroad after FIFA decision?

The subject of playing Premier League matches abroad is a very emotive one.

There have been attempts by the top flight owners to do this in the past.

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These attempts to play Premier League matches overseas have included the infamous ‘Game 39’ initiative.

This was proposed in 2008 by the Premier League and would have seen an added round of matches added, these games played around the globe in various locations. The points gained from this 39th round would have counted towards the Premier League table.

This was a not very subtle Trojan Horse approach, as it used the argument that the fans of the Premier League clubs wouldn’t be missing out, as they would still have the usual 19 home and 19 away games, with this 39th round of Premier League matches an extra, for football fans in other countries to watch competitive matches live without having to travel to the UK.

It was put forward as an obvious win/win situation and no loss to your average traditional fan who goes to matches in the UK. A way (supposedly) for even more money to be generated by Premier League clubs to help fund buying the best players etc, without any negatives.

Of course, we all knew the reality, once you let this Trojan Horse through the gate, the pressure would then simply build and build on then some of the 38 normal rounds of Premier League matches to be added.

Thankfully that was knocked back at the time thanks to widespread opposition from everybody from fans of Premier League clubs, right through to FIFA.

However, this issue has never gone away.

As the failed Super League attempt by the six Premier League clubs and their partners in crime on the continent showed, the owners will never stop trying to break the system, as they see the possibility of massive extra riches, on top of the huge enormous riches they already generate, as the Premier League is the dominant league in the world and continues to see that financial gap grow year on year to rival leagues / countries.

The growing number of American owners of Premier League clubs makes things ever worse, as they come from a sporting culture where everything is geared towards the owners of all the clubs collectively making as much money as possible, by whatever means. Relegation isn’t even a thing, whilst a City can simply just lose its team if it isn’t working out financially, with the franchise potentially moved thousands of miles. For a long time now, the drive to make ever more money has seen a significant number of American Football matches played outside of the USA, for years games played in London and other cities in countries elsewhere.

Anyway, the possibility of Premier League matches played overseas has reared its head again due to a FIFA decision.

The Athletic explaining the situation and how only the new Independent Regulator could potentially stand between us seeing Premier League matches played overseas:

‘The possibility of taking one-off domestic league fixtures abroad has increased after FIFA were dropped from a landmark lawsuit by the U.S. events promoter Relevent, who in 2018 were thwarted in their attempts to take a La Liga fixture between Girona and Barcelona to Miami in the United States.

A five-year court battle has seen Relevent, founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, essentially accuse FIFA of acting as a monopoly and preventing fair competition. FIFA’s directive, issued in 2018, said that domestic games ought to be played in their home territory, but FIFA and Relevent settled on their case last week, with FIFA seemingly prepared to revisit its policies on this issue.

The case was settled without prejudice, meaning Relevent reserve the right to reopen their litigation should FIFA not come up with a satisfactory reconsideration of their position. This has left many people within the football industry to believe that FIFA is stepping back from this struggle and leaving it to individual leagues, federations and confederations to tussle over the matter of whether domestic games can be played outside of a home territory.

Following the fallout of the Super League, where six of the Premier League’s richest clubs sought to breakaway from their continental rivals and set up a closed European competition, British politicians have pledged to keep a tighter leash on a band of owners who have widely been considered to have lost the trust of British football supporters.

The Athletic can reveal a clause in the Football Governance Bill that says the proposed regulator must be informed firstly when there is a “reasonable prospect” that a team could “enter into arrangements” to play at a location other than its home ground.

It would then have to obtain the approval of the regulator before entering into an agreement. Approval by the regulator would then be contingent on two factors. The first is that it would not “undermine the financial sustainability” and the second, more crucial point to this debate, is that “it would not cause significant harm to the heritage of the club”, which is a highly subjective criteria that would likely be fiercely contested.’

For me, it isn’t a case of ‘if’ Premier League owners will try to change things to allow some normal league season PL matches to be played overseas, it is ‘when’ will they next try?

The likes of Manchester United and Liverpool in particular, have shown very clearly that they have club owners who are totally ruthless, who will try absolutely anything to make more money and increase their power, no matter what their own fans might think, never mind anybody else.

Plus of course, anybody trying to paint the likes of Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and Man City as less guilty, is having a laugh. They absolutely wanted the European Super League to happen and not have to worry ever again about that troubling little thing of having to actually qualify for the Champions League.

To make major changes, 14 Premier League clubs need to vote in favour. When it comes to playing Premier League matches abroad, my view is that I would question if indeed any owners would be against this. If so, I would guess no more than one or two. They are all driven by money and if, as has been repeatedly reported, they have the opportunity to make huge extra cash by playing some Premier League matches overseas, then they will do it for sure.

Put it this way, as Newcastle United fans, do you honestly think for one minute that our Saudi Arabia PIF NUFC owners would vote against the chance of Premier League matches getting played in Saudi Arabia???

For so many fans though, this is surely a line that can’t be crossed.

So much of the sport we love has been eroded by the pursuit of cash and Newcastle United playing some of their ‘home’ matches thousands of miles away. That would surely be the straw that broke the camel’s back for many of us.

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