Supporters groups are considering organising a boycott of the sponsors of the Premier League as part of a campaign to oppose plans for a 39th round of fixtures played overseas.
The Football Supporters Federation (FSF) will write to Barclays, title-sponsors of the Premier League, asking the bank to clarify its position on Richard Scudamore’s plan to play 10 matches abroad from the 2010-11 season.
The FSF is also planning to contact other sponsors including Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Budweiser, Nike, Lucozade’s parent Glaxo-Smithkline and Wrigleys. Dependent upon their responses then fans may be asked to withdraw their custom from the brands.
“All of the commercial sponsors who associate themselves with the Premier League and bask in the glory in the good times must also expect their role to come under scrutiny when outrageous proposals such as these are made,” said a spokesman.
The Premier League will meet Fifa officials in the coming weeks to try to establish whether there are any constitutional reasons why they can’t play an additional round of fixtures overseas.
The League’s chief executive, Richard Scudamore, confirmed yesterday that he will seek a meeting with the Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke to discuss the plans.
Scudamore and his advisors believe that the proposals would not break any FIFA statutes. They are confident that the precedent set by playing international friendly matches in third-party countries supports their case for playing matches overseas.
The relevant regulation states: “The [Fifa] executive committee shall be responsible for issuing provisions for organising international matches and competitions between association teams and between league and/or club teams. No such match or competition shall take place without the prior permission of Fifa.”
Scudamore fears that if the Premier League does ot undertake overseas fixtures the leading clubs will act unilaterally to the detriment of smaller clubs.
“This is a solidarity move where all 20 clubs want to do it,” he said. The chief executive refused to rule out the experiment extending beyond one initial round, but said the current proposal was a “strategic play” that would satisfy clubs for a decade.