Richard Scudamore warns teams over mid-season friendlies

The Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, believes it would take an improbable combination of events to make an increase in mid-season friendlies a feasible option.

Friendly matches played during the season are not uncommon with Manchester United having played a testimonial game in Saudi Arabia in January 2008 while Manchester City will head to Abu Dhabi in November to tackle the United Arab Emirates national team during the international break.

India is rumoured to be considering a bid to host an exhibition between United and Liverpool some time before Christmas and the United chief executive, David Gill, admitted last month that a mid-season friendly is something they would consider. However, Scudamore believes such a proposition is unrealistic.

"It is almost physically impossible I would think unless they both decided they did not want to play in the FA Cup, which no one will be recommending they do," he said. "There is almost no chance of being able to plan with enough certainty and in advance friendlies within the season until you know you are knocked out of various competitions. This is going to be a very limited opportunity for a very limited few.

"We get many, many people with many, many schemes in terms of when they would like to play, who they would like to play and how they would like to do it. I can't sit here and react to every 'let's play this game here' or 'let's play that game there'.

"It is such a rare combination of events, you would have to get knocked out of the Cup and with these things you can suddenly see a date appear in the calendar, but with only two weeks' notice."

United and Liverpool both enjoyed hugely popular tours to the far east recently and friendly matches played during the season could be seen as a more realistic option than the implementation of an extra Premier League fixture played abroad.

The proposition for a 39th game was unveiled in February last year but garnered a largely negative reaction and while Scudamore admits the controversial plan is still being considered, it will not be looked at again until mid-2010 at the earliest.

"In some ways [the 39th game] is further away now than perhaps it's ever been," he added. "We won't come back to look at anything strategically again for the 39th game before mid 2010 and we'll work on it again.

"We spent a long time talking to host cities about the 39th game and we never worried that we could generate the attendances and make the game work in some way. But that doesn't mean it's going to happen. It's very much on the back burner and there are no immediate plans."

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