(WFI) English Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore tells INSIDER he is hoping for the best ever season in the league’s 20th year.
Speaking at a media briefing in London’s Landmark hotel two days before the start of the 2011-2012 EPL season, Scudamore told INSIDER: “Our main strategy this summer is to reproduce last season, because we think that last season is one of the best we’ve had.”
“We’ve got some exciting talent already been acquired, everybody’s been buying players and the league refreshes itself because of that.
“Its new teams, new players, new managers and its new formats, so there is an awful lot of ‘new’ going on.”
Tottenham Hotspur’s opening fixture against Everton was yesterday postponed because of rioting in London this week, which started not far from the club’s White Hart Lane ground. But all the other nine Premier League fixtures will go ahead along with all fixtures in the Football League.
Scudamore denied that the rioting would have a negative impact on the Premier League globally, despite the violence across the British capital causing that fixture to be postponed.
“It doesn’t damage our reputation around the world as we are not a perishable good. If we don’t play this week, we’ll be back next week. All the games will be shown and have been sold all around the world,” he told INSIDER.
But he conceded: “The pictures being shown around the world since the weekend are clearly damaging to the reputation of this country. It’s an added irritant if the football is disrupted but in the grand scheme of things it is not as bad as those images.”
Boosting the EPL’s global profile
Speaking about the international image of the Premier League, Scudamore was optimistic about enhancing its profile abroad, despite the economic crisis in the eurozone. He said league officials had worked hard to market to the growing economies of the world to boost interest in the league.
“We’ve always marketed to everywhere – what we’ve seen recently is a marked increase in interest in South America, in India and in China particularly,” he said.
“We altered last year our distribution arrangements in China which has made us available to a much bigger audience to people in China – and we are noticing growth in those
economies and those emerging markets.”
He added: “We are in 212 countries, which is only one more than last year.
“More countries will be taking our Premier League channel, our 24-hour broadcasting service, so there will be more distribution of that.”
The EPL boss also spoke confidently of the brand’s economic safety, saying: “We are pretty well hedged when it comes to marketing ourselves to the differing economies of the world.”
But overseas fans will not be seeing a Premier League fixture in their own country as Scudamore dismissed the notion of clubs playing a 39th league game abroad any time soon.
The initiative has been floated on numerous occasions before, and once again he restated: “It’s not going to happen.”
The media briefing was also used to announce new initiatives, put together in partnership with the English FA, Professional Footballers’ Association and League Managers Association, that will form part of the Get On With The Game (GOWTG) programme and to launch the new Premier League Players’ Kit Scheme in partnership with the PFA.
FA chairman David Bernstein was also in attendance, pledging the FA’s support to GOWTG. He told reporters that he was in full support of protecting the way referees are treated by the players on the pitch.
“I hope you will see a tightening up in terms of when referees are approached, whether they are disrespected – I think you saw that in the Community Shield which was refereed very well, and there were one or two instances where the referee took a very firm hand,” he said.
“I think that was a very good start to the season in terms of refereeing.
“We have to make sure players don’t get away with things they shouldn’t be getting away with.”
When asked about the England friendly with Holland that was postponed on Wednesday due to the riots near Wembley, Bernstein said that they were in discussions with the Dutch FA about rescheduling the match “probably in March of next year”.
By INSIDER’s Christian Radnedge in London
Your best source of news about the global football business is World Football INSIDER