Game 39 is Back!By: Daryl | August 4th, 2008
The latest plan to squeeze more money out of the Premier League is to take a “winter break” (air quotes because it means the exact opposite) from January 2011 onwards and play five mini-league-tournaments of four teams each in exotic foreign locations.
The Premier League have been careful to keep Richard Scudamore’s name off of this (he’s not quoted in any of the stories) but his money grabbing fingerprints are all over it.
In some ways it’s a smart compromise. The fundamental problem with Game 39 was that it damaged the 38 game integrity of the traditional league system. But for my money (or, more accurately, for some Japanese businessman’s money) this idea will suffer from the exact opposite problem.
It doesn’t matter how much prize money is on offer (rumour is that it’s £5millionplus for each club, with incentives to field first team players) these mini-leagues are just friendlies. They’re not the Premier League, and clubs will treat it accordingly.
If Steven Gerrard is exhausted in January and Liverpool are making a realistic push for the Premier League, do you really think Rafa Benitez is going to make him fly to Tokyo and play three extra games? Me neither.
More importantly, I assume the top fives teams will be distributed evenly around the globe to had up the five mini-leagues. Which means the good people of (inster host city) have more chance of seeing Blackburn vs Bolton than Man Utd vs Arsenal.
What the Premier League are proposing is basically playing a pre-season tournament in the middle of the season. Which begs the question: why not just do it in pre-season?