The murky politics of tactical voting appears to be closer to home

England’s disastrous bid for the 2018 World Cup and the subsequent allegations of corruption have again come to light following former FA Chairman Lord Triesman’s recent appearance before the parliamentary select committee. This time, however, Triesman has presented new evidence that he was held to ransom by Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore in his campaign to hold a 39th Premier League fixture on foreign soil each year.

Keen the maximise the already huge global marketing potential of the Premier League, the idea was first suggested in early 2008 but was met with mixed reactions. Ultimately reliant on the support of the FA to proceed, the idea was rejected and there was worry even then that it could affect England’s World Cup bid.

However, Scudamore still feels the 39th game has a future and Triesman claims he attempted to resurrect the idea during the World Cup bid. An organisational rivalry that has endured for nearly two decades, Scudamore was apparently willing to put aside their differences and give the FA’s bid the backing of the Premier league. In exchange, however, Scudamore allegedly demanded the FA’s support in rejuvenating the campaign for a 39th game.

This again proves another sad example of the Premier League and its vast riches putting itself before the national governing body. Since its formation in 1992, power has shifted further and further away from the FA and instead towards the money men of Premier League. Whilst the World Cup would have ultimately brought money into the country for the FA rather than the Premier League, the tournament itself would make a great statement for English football. Similarly, it would also raise the profile and marketing potential of the Premier League furthermore so Scudamore’s decision not to back the bid is not only nonsensical but also somewhat disgraceful.

However, the Premier League’s snub of the bid was hardly a key factor in the bid’s failure. A lightweight proposal by a somewhat outdated organisation that has refused to adapt to the changing international politics of football was further muddied following Triesman’s allegations last year regarding bribery by Spain and Russia.

But, in refusing to back the bid, the Premier League again highlighted a game vastly divided domestically between the two major governing bodies. On these grounds it was no surprise that England only received two bids, one of which was from former FA Chairman and current FIFA Vice President Geoff Thompson.

Whilst the 39th Game would undoubtedly have brought more money into the Premier League and taken advantage of its already market-leading popularity abroad, the whole idea was generally unpopular and the FA had its grounds for opposing it. But, the opportunity to hold the World Cup rarely comes around and in refusing to back the bid and by effectively holding the FA to ransom, the Premier League again proved themselves more interested in the money than in the future of the English game.

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