Officials from 23 top-flight football leagues attended the London meeting (English Premier League)

(WFI) The challenges of running a professional league and fan engagement were among topics of debate at the first Global Leagues Forum in London.

The English Premier League hosted the inaugural meeting on Tuesday.

The forum brings together – for the first time – presidents, chairmen, chief executives and general secretaries from 23 professional top-flight football leagues, representing more than 1,100 clubs and nearly 20,000 players.

Professional leagues from Bolivia, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, UAE, USA, as well as the European Professional Football Leagues Association, were represented.

The leagues in attendance provided just under 90 percent of the players involved in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The forum aims to enable best practices to be shared across the leagues as well as facilitate discussions on common issues, including the international match calendar, players’ status and transfer matters, international release of players, broadcasting and commercial rights and the integrity of competitions. It also shows the leagues’ willingness to cooperate with FIFA and its six confederations on international football development issues.

Discussions at the meeting were wide-ranging, focusing on strategies for the successful development of professional league football in each of the attendees’ countries. These focused on relationships with players and fans in particular and business models.

Participants agreed that wherever a common view on issues can be achieved, leagues should speak with a single voice as leading members of the global football family.

At the end of the meeting, chair of the European Professional Football Leagues Association Frédéric Thiriez said: “Today was an important day for professional football. This was a first and decisive step for the world leagues to speak with a single voice on issues of common concern”.

Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore said the new football body was “an excellent opportunity” for leagues to share best practice and discuss common challenges.

“We all want to see the continued growth of professional football in a sustainable and responsible manner that benefits the wider sport,” he said in a statement.

A focus of the next meeting, hosted by Major League Soccer in Miami on Oct. 19-20, will be on formalising a new way of working more closely together.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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