Despite running the sporting behemoth that is the English Premier League, Richard Scudamore said on 17 July that he still casts his eyes enviously at the foreign expansion success of the NFL and NBA.
Scudamore is in Singapore attending the Premier Leagues Asian Trophy, which concludes tomorrow (18 July). The biennial tournament, which has been held in Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Thailand, is in its seventh edition and is set to achieve record attendances of more than 77,000 in Singapore.
Scudamore said the event could never meet the demands of Asian fans, who contributed billions of pounds to the leagues coffers in the international television market.
Well, it can never satisfy the appetite of a fan enough, can it? he said. At the end of the day, until you see a proper real game played for points, how can it satisfy the appetite, because the appetite is so huge.
Are we any nearer? The answer is no. The answer is no for the reason that everybody knows, there is huge resistance among the UK fan base, the traditional fan base, and therefore until, and this might never never change, and unless the attitudes change towards that, its almost impossible to see how you would play a game for points abroad.
I do envy the other sports that can, whether it be the NBA [National Basketball Association], whether it be the NFL [National Football League], who can come to England, and get praised by the same media that criticised the Premier League for even thinking about it.
Of course, I think its a good idea, Ive never denied that I think its a good idea that we could play some games abroad, but ultimately I do respect the fans who dont think its a good idea, and until sufficient numbers do think its an ok idea, it cant happen.
The two US sports leagues have successfully hosted regular season games in the UK, and it has been a long-held wish of Scudamores that Premier League matches also be played around the world.
Opposition from fans
But his idea of an overseas 39th game was met with opposition from fans, who routinely fill stadiums and helped local television deals swell to a record £5.14bn ($8.02bn, €7.40bn) earlier this year.
Scudamore said: You cant run a perfect democracy, and the fans cant entirely vote for everything because, of course, youve got vocal minorities as well, and you have to work out whether the vocal minority is representative of a wider group. But certainly, I think there is such widespread difficulty on this particular issue, that its just not a question of keeping it, of ignoring a small vocal minority, I think its a much wider resistance than that, and when it gets that big, of course you have to listen, and you have to be cognisant of that.
Scudamore said the obvious avenue for growth would be to stage more Premier League preseason tournaments, but held back on the location of the 2017 edition.
The next step will be more, I dont think they can be bigger, there is a practical difficulty with the big, you couldnt have more teams really, involved, because it will be here too long, you cant really be here for two weeks. To have two weeks part of your preseason will just be too long so the more teams you have, the longer youd have to have the tournament, so I think that gets difficult. But certainly the idea of doing more around the region, maybe even concurrently, although it will be a stretch on our resources, I am sure we can manage, Im sure doing more in Asia plus also more in the Americas is, I think, a more likely prospect, he said.