Australia has become the latest country to pour cold water on the Premier League’s plan to stage matches overseas.
The Premier League are investigating a proposal that would see an extra 10 fixtures played abroad from the 2010-11 season onwards, extending the domestic campaign to 39 games.
But the plans have not been met with approval, with national and regional associations including the United States Soccer Federation and the Asian Football Confederation voicing their opposition to the plans. Now, the Football Federation Australia (FFA) said they would not support the concept.
FFA chairman Frank Lowy said he saw no great benefit to Australia hosting any Premier League matches.
“We said when this issue first arose last week that FFA’s overwhelming priority is to promote the Hyundai A-League and to continue to invest in, and grow, the game in Australia,” Lowy said.
“That remains our view.”
Lowy said any move to play a Premier League game in Australia would be seen as underming the national league.
“The bottom line is, FFA rejects the notion of another country playing a round of their domestic competition in Australia and intruding on the development of the Hyundai A-League and the game in Australia,” added Lowy.
Chief executive Ben Buckley backed Lowy but admitted FFA are still keen to stage exhibition matches in Australia involving teams from Europe.
“However, our overriding objective is to build equity in the Hyundai A-League and everything we do is assessed against that objective,” said Buckley.
The news from Australia came on the same day that Mohammed bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Confederation, outlined his objections to the plans.
“I always welcome the exchange of knowledge and expertise between foreign football associations and clubs, and support matches organised between AFC and other confederations which benefit the development of our clubs here in Asia. But at the present time, I can’t see the wisdom in the proposed plans.
“With relation to the overall principle, it is my belief that it is not a good idea to organise domestic leagues in territories other than their own. If this principle is accepted, then the FA Premier League must accept reciprocal arrangements within their own territory.
“Saying that, my recommendation to the AFC executive committee would be to reject any initiatives of this nature. And we would urge the AFC member associations to protect their own national leagues and clubs within their territories. This is our position.”