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A Premier League Game, Near You?

As a fan of the competition in the Premier League, and not its revenue potential, I think this is a terrible idea.

Guardian Unlimited understands there are serious reservations in the government about the Premier League's plan to take matches overseas for the first time from the 2011-12 season. Ministers will not at this stage oppose the audacious proposals to extend the season from 38 games to 39 to allow every club to play one extra match abroad, but they are not yet convinced that the move is in football's best interests and there are concerns around supporters, sporting integrity and the impact upon other national leagues and competitions.

The deal has not been agreed yet, but the league and the chairmen of its 20 clubs are known to be enthusiastic about the idea having agreed to explore the proposal in London today. If the deal goes ahead, the 10 overseas games are expected to take place in January providing there is space in the calendar, with points awarded for the extra match in the normal way. The top five sides are likely to be seeded so that they do not meet each other, but otherwise the fixtures will be drawn out of a hat and played in cities around the world.

New York, Beijing and Tokyo are among potential venues, and they will have to compete with other cities for the right to stage the games. Five cities would be chosen each year, with each venue hosting matches on consecutive days. A certain number of games are likely to be played in third world nations, with the Premier League keen to use football as a development tool.

...With the influx of foreign businessmen to the Premier League - nine top-flight clubs are owned by overseas owners, including Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea - it has long been thought that league matches would eventually be taken outside England. The league is following the example of the top American leagues, the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, the first three having all staged games in London last October, the latter having previously played regular-season baseball games in Tokyo.