Premier League chiefs ‘reopen discussions about playing matches ABROAD’


REVEALED: Premier League will NOT play top-flight matches abroad – but clubs are discussing how to make pre-season games overseas ‘more meaningful’ to attract new fans in US, Brazil, China, India and Indonesia

  • Premier League shareholders are understood to have met in London last week 
  • They are keen to keep extending the reach of the competition in foreign markets 
  • US, China, Brazil, India and Indonesia are believed to be key targets 
  • But it is reported that plans will not include competitive Premier League matches abroad like ‘Game 39’, which was proposed 10 years ago


Premier League chiefs are in discussion about playing more ‘meaningful’ matches abroad as part of a top-flight pre-season competition.

Clubs met last week and one of the issues up for discussion was how to extend the reach of the Premier League and attract more overseas fans.

The discussion is part of a strategic review, which includes using pre-season summer games to whet the appetite of new audiences. 

Currently, clubs choose to play in different competitions or countries during pre-season. One option, Sportsmail understands, could be to offer a Premier League pre-season competition, although the conversation is at an early stage.

No plan is in place and clubs have been asked for initial feedback on how to grow the Premier League’s market.

Premier League chiefs have reportedly met to discuss playing pre-season matches abroad

Shareholders are understood to be keen to showcase the competition to new foreign markets

Shareholders are understood to be keen to showcase the competition to new foreign markets

According to the Athletic, the league’s shareholders met at the plush Landmark Hotel in Marylebone, London last week, and considered how they could target new fans in the US, Brazil, China, India and Indonesia.

A slightly bigger pre-season tournament in America may be a first step. 

News of the conversation quickly sparked speculation about the return of the controversial concept of a ‘Game 39’, proposed by former Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore a decade ago, in which a competitive Premier League fixture would be played abroad.

The Athletic reported that a possible ‘roadmap for meaningful matches abroad’ was mentioned last week.

However, sources insist this is ‘not about Scudamore’ and there is no intention of playing competitive Premier League matches in other countries.

Scudamore’s ‘Game 39’ idea suggested an extra round of matches added on to the regular season at five different locations abroad. 

The news comes more than a decade after the 'Game 39' idea from former Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore (pictured) was scrapped due to major opposition

The news comes more than a decade after the ‘Game 39’ idea from former Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore (pictured) was scrapped due to major opposition

England manager Gareth Southgate was one who expressed scepticism over 'Game 39'

England manager Gareth Southgate was one who expressed scepticism over ‘Game 39’

Clubs could have earned an estimated £5million per match, but it met opposition or scepticism from managers including Gareth Southgate, Rafael Benitez, Roy Hodgson and Steve Bruce, and was panned by fans for prioritising money over supporters. 

Eventually, with objections from FIFA, UEFA and the FA and concerns regarding how it could affect England’s 2018 World Cup bid, it was ditched. 

Scudamore, however, said in 2014: ‘It will happen at some point.’ 

However, the Premier League has undertaken to look at all aspects of its business as part of the strategic review that was launched last year.

Chief executive Richard Masters has insisted ‘nothing is off the table’. The Premier League is already the most powerful of the five biggest European leagues as a result of the broadcast income it commands and it will want to secure that position for years to come.

The challenge is that media analysts widely believe that the ‘peak’ of the market in broadcast rights passed in 2018. The Premier League has largely bucked that trend so far, but if it is to secure further growth in revenues it will have to expand its market further.

TV DEALS DRIVE PREMIER LEAGUE WEALTH AND DWARF RIVALS
League Average Broadcast
Revenue Per Club
% Club Revenue   
Premier League £143.3 million 53%   
La Liga  £66.6 million  42%   
Bundesliga  £60.3 million  34%   
Serie A  £54.0 million  47%   
Ligue 1  £31.1 million  37%   
Source: UEFA Benchmarking Report 2020       

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