Scudamore neutral on managers' tiff

The squabble between managers Arsene Wenger (right) and Jose Mourinho is all part of the show, says Premier League boss Richard Scudamore.
The squabble between managers Arsene Wenger (right) and Jose Mourinho is all part of the show, says Premier League boss Richard Scudamore.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON • To the man in charge of the Premier League, the playground squabble between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho is all part of the show.

On one hand, yes, the enmity between the two most distinguished managers in English football might set a poor example.

However, Richard Scudamore feels that a genuine feud is preferable to a superficial truce.

"I don't think it's good or bad," he said of the failure of Wenger and Mourinho to shake hands after Arsenal's FA Community Shield victory over Chelsea last Sunday.

"What would be worse is a meaningless handshake where it meant nothing. At the end of the day, it's an issue between two individuals.

"If they want to shake hands, that's fine.

"I don't have a view as to whether it is good or bad if they don't."

Surely even a "meaningless" handshake would be a better way to promote sportsmanship?

"But not artificially," Scudamore said. "The authenticity is far more important. Shake hands if you mean it, and if there's some enmity between you, then that's for individuals to decide, not me.

"At the end of the day, it is a sport and, at the end of a sporting contest, whether you have won or lost, it should not be beyond anybody to shake hands.

"That's why we have a line-up and handshake at the beginning - and there's an element of respect about that - but you are not going to get me drawn and intervening in terms of what goes on between two managers.

"It is rivalry, it is competitiveness and people understand it goes back a long way."

One of Scudamore's hopes for the new campaign is for a more competitive title race than last season. Chelsea finished eight points clear of Manchester City and 12 in front of Arsenal.

Another is for an improvement from the Premier League contingent in Europe. Underperformance over the past five seasons has seen England dropping from first to third in the Uefa coefficient ranking table and at slight risk of losing their fourth Champions League spot to Italy.

When asked whether he believes the Premier League is the best in the world, Scudamore said: "We have never said that. What I do say is there are certain measures which you can apply and test yourself against. In terms of attendance and occupancy, we are the fullest of the major leagues.

"In terms of (television) audience, we are the most watched.

"In terms of the countries distributed to, we are the most widely distributed. We are the most talked about on social media.

"Ultimately, though, it comes back to attendance and audience and that is the best I measure us by. Those figures are still going in the right direction."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2015, with the headline 'Scudamore neutral on managers' tiff'. Print Edition | Subscribe