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Football: H.K. has Scudamore dreaming of '39th game'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore told AFP on Thursday that an extension to the season to include a round of matches overseas -- a controversial "39th game" -- would eventually happen.

Scudamore was speaking in Hong Kong, where nearly 40,000 people braved torrential rain on Wednesday to see Sunderland beat Spurs 3-1 and Manchester City defeat local side South China 1-0.

City will face Sunderland in the sell-out final of the Barclays Asia Trophy on Saturday.

Scudamore, who faced fierce criticism over the "39th game" concept when it was first mooted, said the enthusiasm he had seen in Hong Kong had underlined the thirst for competitive Premier League fixtures outside England.

"It was called the 'international round' and was never going to be the '39th game' in the chronological sense," he said.

"Is it dead in the water? Certainly there are no plans to resurrect it. It was pretty savaged by the UK media and fan reaction in the UK wasn't great.

"Will it probably happen? It will probably happen one day but that day probably won't be on my watch.

"But it's certainly one for the future and you can see that it does get tantalisingly close to resurrecting the idea when you come here and see the enthusiasm for a tournament.

"Imagine if there were points involved? It would be quite something."

A number of Premier League teams have been touring abroad during pre-season, with a heavy emphasis on fast-growing Asia.

"Our global fan base is just short of a billion, and half of those are here in Asia, so it (Asia) is a hugely important part of what we do, hence three clubs that are here this week and the other clubs in the region at this time of year -- Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool," said Scudamore.

"They're all here and it's a testimony to how important Asia is."

Scudamore said he believed that it was the "authenticity" of the Premier League that made it so popular in the increasingly wealthy region.

"Essentially, it all boils down to what it looks like. People tune in and watch, and what they are seeing is football, and it's football that is quicker, pacier and it's just good to watch, therefore ultimately everything revolves around how good the football looks."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130725/football-hk-has-scudamore-dreaming-39th-game