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SBD Global/August 16, 2013/International Football

At Dawn Of New EPL Season, EPL CEO Richard Scudamore Says Global Interest High

EPL CEO Richard Scudamore says the league is as popular as ever.
EPL CEO Richard Scudamore "is in a bullish mood," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Even a "renewed bout of soul searching closer to home" about the effect of the Premier League's success on the England team, and the ongoing protests from fans concerned that English football has sold its soul to Mammon, "cannot sour Scudamore's mood of breezy optimism." Scudamore: "We have never had more interest abroad, of that there is no doubt. What it really says is that the world still likes what English football has to offer. The only reason we're successful internationally is because we are good locally." With int'l interest "has come globalisation of ownership." Recently, the Premier League "has faced renewed criticism from those who believe more thought should be given to the ultimate consequences of selling clubs to owners from around the world." Scudamore: "It's very difficult for us to sit here with 212 countries and take the moral maze route of which countries we should and shouldn't be dealing with." He argues the influx of overseas owners -- 11 of the 20 Premier League clubs are foreign-owned with six now U.S.-owned -- "has improved the level of professionalism." Scudamore: "The game has moved on. Manchester City are a perfect case in point. The people who own it and run it are extremely professional. It's the same with Liverpool, or the Glazers. Fans can have their view but I can only speak as I find."

SHARING THE WEALTH: The Premier League's success "has inflated a bubble that defiantly refuses to burst." Over time, "the huge TV bounty has bought him increased influence over the clubs." Every time a new multibillion pound TV deal is struck, "there is a concentrated and bruising bout of negotiation as the various parts of the game that the Premier League riches fund" -- from Kick It Out to Supporters Direct and from the Football League to the Football Foundation -- "nervously await news of their share of the pie." Scudamore: "We're going to break the £1.9 billion turnover this year coming, we're going to give away £290 million. It's a huge number." Away from the TV contracts, financial control regulations and dispersal of solidarity payments, Scudamore "is well aware that he is 'selling a show' and a key component of that show are the fans who pack the stadiums and provide the atmosphere." Scudamore: "My prime concern is fans. But there is a complexity to that, as to what fans you're talking about. Each of those fan groups have a different set of issues." Scudamore "reaches for the numbers." Scudamore: "The crowds are getting younger, we're on average three years younger than we were five years ago. Under-16 season tickets are up from 10% to 13%. BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities up from 4% in 2003 to 12%. Let's dispel the urban myths. We're getting younger, we're getting more diverse, the stadiums are getting fuller and the TV audiences are getting bigger" (GUARDIAN, 8/14).

WINTER WORLD CUP: In London, Chris Wheeler reported Scudamore "has called on FIFA" to move the 2022 World Cup from Qatar "rather than consider staging the event in winter." Scudamore said that would be "nigh on impossible" because it would "wreak havoc with the Premier League season and other league schedules around the globe." Scudamore said, "They’ve decided to hold the World Cup in the summer in Qatar -- that’s their decision. Our view is this: if that is deemed to be not possible for whatever reasons FIFA decide -- and it’s their decision not ours as to where they hold the World Cup -- then they need to move the location if it can’t be held in the summer. They can’t just on a whim decide to move it to the winter, that’s a very different issue" (DAILY MAIL, 8/15).
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