Football: Premier League boosts ties with Asian market

LONDON (AFP) - The English Premier League has bolstered its ties with its most significant overseas market by signing a co-operation agreement with the Asian Football Confederation.

Reports claim more than half of the 804 million homes across the world which have access to Premier League games are in Asia and the Middle East, and the English league's bosses are determined to ensure their competition continues to dominate the region's sporting agenda.

The new agreement was signed by Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore and AFC president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

It will see the league continue to operate its Premier Skills coaching programme in AFC countries and see the two bodies set up joint marketing initiatives involving their member clubs.

The AFC will provide support for the Premier League and its clubs in their promotion and marketing activity in Asia while partnership programmes between professional clubs will be encouraged.

"If you look at the numbers, the amount of countries the Asian confederation encompasses, the sheer physical geography, the population and the number of fans, then clearly it is hugely significant," Mr Scudamore said.

"The strategic aims of the Premier League probably looks more to Asia than anywhere else which is why mutual co-operation is very important.

"We also like to be good football citizens and this mutual co-operation is good football citizenship." Sheikh Salman added: "The whole of Asia is following the clubs in England and the Premier League is a top priority for us, which is why we wanted to establish this relationship."

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