Barclays Asia Trophy 2015

EPL chief envious of NBA and NFL

Richard Scudamore does not foresee broadcasters being given access to dressing rooms in EPL clubs. He is not for a winter World Cup in Qatar but is working with Fifa to minimise the disruption.
Richard Scudamore does not foresee broadcasters being given access to dressing rooms in EPL clubs. He is not for a winter World Cup in Qatar but is working with Fifa to minimise the disruption.PHOTO: DANIEL NEO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Scudamore says English fans, media strongly object to staging any EPL matches abroad

The English Premier League (EPL), shown in 212 territories around the world and which recently sold its television rights for £5.1 billion (S$10.9 billion), is arguably the most recognisable and most-watched sporting league in the world.

Yet, Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, cannot help but look enviously at the United States' National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL).

In town for the Barclays Asia Trophy, the 50-year-old told The Straits Times: "I'll be very candid and honest. I'm envious of the NBA and the NFL's ability to somehow be able to just lift one of their home games and play it in London or around the world.

"They seem to be able to do that without the toxic and negative reaction of their home fans.

"When we raised the prospect of perhaps doing it, it was absolutely scuppered by the negative reaction of the fans and media back in England, and you have to respect that.

"Ultimately, these are the people buying the season tickets.

STALEMATE FOR NOW

(An overseas match) can only be (held) when there's an attitudinal shift.

RICHARD SCUDAMORE, EPL's chief executive on the possibility of holding matches abroad

"(An overseas match) can only be (held) when there's an attitudinal shift. I don't know when that will be, we may never get there."

Scudamore had planned to stage a 39th league match abroad in 2008 but his idea led to so much objection from the British media and fans that it was canned.

The idea follows that of the NBA, which grows its global reach by holding games abroad.

TROUBLESHOOTING

... we're working with Fifa to come up with a calendar that works, (one) which is the least-worst situation.

SCUDAMORE, on the 2022 World Cup

For instance, it held its ninth sell-out game in London in January.

The first four matches were friendlies while the rest were regular-season ties.

In addition, it also has an All-Star weekend, where it brings its best players for a series of side-show events and a game.

To make it an intimate experience for fans, the NBA also allows cameras into dressing rooms, at courtside during team talks, and on court during breaks for interviews.

All these help to build engagement with the fans.

The Premier League has taken a first step in the NBA's direction, after deciding not to have a title sponsor after its current deal with Barclays runs out in 2016.

Asked if the league will let officials or players wear microphones during matches, or allow cameras into dressing rooms, Scudamore said: "I'm not saying anything is out of the question, but the integrity of the sport and the sporting competition comes first, which is why we don't have television cameras in our dressing rooms.

"I absolutely fully respect and understand why a manager would like to speak to his team in the intimacy of the dressing room.

"We do respect and understand the value that is driven by our TV audience... (but) we'll never compromise the sporting competition just for media purposes."

Scudamore was also candid in expressing his disappointment over Fifa's decision to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar during the English winter months of November and December.

That said, he revealed that the league is already working with a Fifa task force to come up with a workable schedule by September.

He said: "We are very disappointed, still we're working with Fifa to come up with a calendar that works, (one) which is the least-worst situation.

"We've completely resigned ourselves to the fact that it will be (held in winter). If the Fifa executive committee accepts the recommendations of the task force that's been looking at this, it will mean it's the minimum disruption it can be.

"Therefore, we have to start a couple of weeks earlier and finish a couple of weeks later."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2015, with the headline 'EPL CHIEF ENVIOUS OF NBA AND NFL'. Print Edition | Subscribe