Barclays Asia Trophy: Thumbs-up for Singapore

Barclays Asia Trophy: Thumbs-up for Singapore
GOOD TURNOUT: The huge welcome by fans for the Barclays Asia Trophy players like Per Mertesacker (near left) is a plus point in the Premier League’s assessment of the tournament returning to Singapore.
PHOTO: The New Paper

EPL chairman Scudamore praises organisation but coy on whether tourney will return in 2017

1.Other than the Barclays Asia Trophy, the Premier League has made its presence felt here through the Premier Skills programme and the workshops. What are the league's plans for Singapore?

RICHARD SCUDAMORE: We don't go to a place once and just leave. We have been coming to this region for a long time... so this is yet another considerable notch up from what we have done in previous years.

We've announced a $50,000 investment yesterday for the Football Association of Singapore into the Premier Skills Level 2 and 3 coaching programmes.

We will build a legacy programme with them and keep coming back to do more.

2. How long is this deal with the FAS?

That depends on how long all the courses take... but it won't all end there.

The way we have been welcomed here in Singapore... operationally, everything has worked, from the stadium to all the events off-field, it's been so well organised, well facilitated and well provided for. I can see us wanting to come back and do more.

3. Will the Barclays Asia Trophy be back here in 2017 then, since we are likely to see the best-ever attendances in the competition here?

We never make promises on where we go next, because we have to sit down and do a complete assessment.

But the clubs enjoyed themselves, it's all gone well, the stadium and facilities are great, the welcome we get here is fantastic, and it's relatively easy to get around to many other places. So there are lots going for it (Singapore).

4. In recent years, more Spanish, German and Italian teams have ramped up promotional efforts in Asia, where the EPL has a stronghold. Is there a danger of this "bubble" bursting?

We don't have any control over that, all we can do is to activate through our broadcasting-rights partners, the highest quality and tele-visual experience we can, since most of our interaction with fans in Asia is through television.

As long as we are putting on a good show, I am absolutely convinced that interest will not only continue in the current level, but it will also continue to grow.

5. Some say Raheem Sterling's transfer from Liverpool to Manchester City cost so much because he's a homegrown player. Is there a danger that homegrown players will inflate the English transfer market?

It's almost impossible to answer that question... that's what it took for Liverpool to sell him. You can come up all the other theories you like but, ultimately, Manchester City wanted him and it took that amount of money to prise him away.

Whether it is because he was homegrown or not, much has been read into all that.

6. What can the Premier League do to increase its numbers of homegrown players, since it is resisting the Football Association's efforts to increase the quota of such players?

We have had a complete revamp and overhaul of our youth development programme and are just coming into the last year of our four-year, £340 million ($725m) investment.

They have voted in the second version of the Elite Player Performance Plan and it will come into full steam at the end of next season.

We are absolutely focused, and the clubs are totally committed to improving youth development... we believe in only the philosophy that your players have to be good enough to hold their own in those teams. You shouldn't be artificially putting quotas.

7. Some critics, including ex-players, blame the Premier League for England's lack of success on the international front. How long would this new plan take to develop enough players of quality?

We are producing enough quality players now, and our job ends when the players come through and they start making their first-team debuts. The whole point of the plan is to produce better homegrown players, but we don't accept that criticism that the England team's success or lack thereof is the responsibility of our organisation.

8. With clubs getting more money from TV rights, is there a concern they will spend more on ready-made players and not develop their own?

No, I just keep going back to the fact that the clubs are investing as much in youth development as they are in just about anything else.

It's just an absolute commitment to bring through homegrown players, they absolutely want to do it.

But... if a club or a manager thinks that Player A can do a better job than Player B, I absolutely respect that club's decision, whether it's a foreign player they buy, or a homegrown player.

Ultimately, it has to be their choice because it's about putting on the best possible show we can, for the betterment of the league.

sayheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 18, 2015.
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