If you had your eyes and ears attuned to football news on Wednesday, you will no doubt already be familiar by now with the latest chatter coming out of the Leaders Sport Business Summit (at Stamford Bridge!) involving the seemingly inevitable expansion to foreign soil by the Premier League. And not just in terms of fans, but actual games.
Although plans are still described as "embryonic", there is no doubting the enthusiasm for a "38th game" among some clubs. Logistically, the fact some would play an uneven number of home games would have to be considered, while Fifa and Uefa would have to be won over.
For any such scheme to be considered for the three-year cycle from 2016-17, it would have to be included in the TV tender documents currently being drawn up. More likely, perhaps, is an expanded Asia Trophy, though even then a crowded pre-season battleground also being targeted by the clubs, media giants and Uefa is a barrier. That could act as a precursor to considering regular-season games for the contract that follows in 2019-20. Either way clubs eyeing the impact on their bottom line would still be wise to tread carefully.
While a few years ago the idea of a "Game 39" was shot down, the Premier League braintrust are now back with a "38th Game" concept that would involve playing one already existing round of the Premier League abroad. Which round? That's unclear. In fact, there's very little at all clear about this, besides the part where initial reactions, as initial reactions are wont to do, are split between wholeheartedly positive (DO IT DO IT DO IT) and wholeheartedly negative especially when this move is viewed as a precursor to some impending European Super League or whatnot.
Then, there are the dreamers:
I support the 39th game if they can work out a way to play it on Mars.— Graham MacAree (@MacAree) October 8, 2014
What is clear is that the Premier League is looking to cash in... err... some more. All they have to do is look to America to see the success of the NFL's or the NBA's games in London or Major League Baseball's games in Japan or even the National Hockey League's special "Arena Series" -- all of which started off as preseason or one-off exhibition matches and have now become part of the regular season schedule. Back in 2008, one of the reasonings behind Game 39 was that if the Premier League weren't going to do it, someone else would and beat England to the punch (and the money). It's all about the money, directly (spectators, TV money) and indirectly (growing the popularity of the league = growing the bottom line).
Of course, the modern game and, specifically, winning in the modern game is mostly about the money, especially at the top level. This shouldn't be a surprise. With that in mind, what do you all think?