News appeared today that Richard Scudamore, the Chief Executive of the Premier League, is still in favour of the controversial ’39th game’ idea that was first suggested back in 2008. Furthermore, apparently the clubs are on board with the idea, too. In my opinion it seems like a no-brainer that meaningful (i.e., for points in the table) overseas games will happen. Football is a business and overseas games are presumably lucrative – both immediately in terms of the ticket revenues they generate, and in the future due to increased awareness of the league in the area. Were this not the case then both the preseason tours of Premiership clubs, and the major American sports leagues are doing something badly misguided.
That being said I’m against the idea of adding a 39th game to the Premiership – with my main objection being the unbalancing of the schedule. It’s obviously patently unfair that one team may get an extra game against City whilst another gets to play against West Ham (that sentence is spoken as a West Ham fan).
With that in mind this would be my proposal:
Instead of adding a 39th game I keep the 38 game schedule ensuring that each team would continue to play each other team twice over the course of the season. However, I would have each team play 36 games in England/Wales – 18 at home & 18 away – and 2 games overseas. This proposal doesn’t unbalance the schedule and it ensures that each team has an equal number of home and away games.
The league would be split into five groups of four teams, with the teams in each group being randomly selected. Each team would play one ‘home game’ and one ‘away game’ against the other teams in its group with a schedule that looks something like:
This covers 4 of the 12 total fixtures that would be played between these two teams over a full season. Thus, in the remainder of the season (the part played in England/Wales), Team 1 would have home games against Teams 3 & 4, whilst also playing away games against Teams 2 & 3.
Potential locations could then bid to ‘host’ one of the groups. The money from the five winning bids would add to the Premier Leagues shared revenue pot, and the host city would get to keep all of the revenue generated by the four matches.