VENTURES AFRICA – After many years of speculation, English Premier League chief, Richard Scudamore, has finally confirmed that the much discussed concept of a 39th game will not be happen in the near future. The concept of 39th game ought to have seen English Premier League clubs play one of the fixtures abroad, on other continents, in the Premier Leagues bid to further maximize the earning potential of the world’s most marketable league as well as reinforce its status as a global brand by leveraging its massive popularity.
Africa will have no doubt posed an interesting proposition for the 39th game idea as would have Asia, North America and Australia. In fact, clubs in Europe have repeatedly ventured into exploring fan bases in Africa given the continent’s famed passion for football, especially the English Premier League. However, the dreams of watching a Premier League game live at the stadium in Johannesburg, Libreville or Marrakech will not be happening anytime soon.
In describing progress that has been made with the plans of a 39th game, Richard Scudamore said it was ‘no nearer’ to completion as a result of various factors.
“The clubs are keen for us to keep developing the concept but we’re no nearer. The idea of an extra game is gone.
“Whether you play an extra season game (overseas), that has challenges, not least among the fans, which we take into consideration,” Scudamore said.
Scudamore, who has been at the forefront of the idea of the 39th game, once again emphasized his belief that it was a good idea.
“I’ve never shied away from the fact that personally I think it’s a good idea. I bear the scars from thinking it’s a good idea. A lot of the clubs think it’s a good idea… but there is absolutely no timeline and no idea when it might happen,” Scudamore said.
However, the African audience will get even more televised Premier League action as the chief executive announced that there will Friday night fixtures starting from the 2016/2017 season.
If the idea of the 39th game ever does become a reality though, Africa will have its success with the French Super Cup as evidence that it can be a viable destination. The French Super Cup has been played outside France since 2009 with Tunisia, Morocco and Gabon all hosting games.
Even further proof of the fan frenzy that make Africa an appealing destination is the fact that of all the games played outside France, the game in Tunisia recorded the highest attendance with 57,000 people present. With Manchester United and Manchester City, two of the Premier Leagues biggest teams, having also played pre season tours in South Africa, if the 39th game ever happens, Africa will have a good case to host one of the games.