SINGAPORE (Reuters) - What the Premier League lacks in terms of European domination on the pitch it more than makes up for in its global appeal off it with Asia, Australia and North America playing host to lucrative pre-season tournaments and tours involving English teams.
Liverpool are in Thailand, Manchester City are in Australia, Manchester United and Chelsea are playing in the United States, and Singapore plays host to Arsenal, Everton and Stoke City this week in the Premier League Asia Trophy tournament.
As each off-season showcases the English league’s global reach, packed stadiums and huge turnouts at fan events are certain to re-open the debate of a ‘39th game’ to give overseas supporters a competitive fixture many feel they deserve.
Speaking ahead of Everton’s opening game against Stoke City in Singapore, club manager Roberto Martinez believes the extra match may be difficult to initiate but it was something the Spaniard is not opposed to.
“It’s been a debate for a long, long time. From a romantic point of view, I see the fans close up and experience their passion so it would be great to see that happen,” Martinez told reporters on Tuesday.
“But that is more of a football aspiration than a reality. It’s difficult to take our league away from England and Wales and make it competitive. We will have to wait and time will tell.”
Martinez admitted the logistics of arranging an extra match for every team would be very difficult but is confident the Premier League has the ability to make it happen if the 39th game was universally agreed upon by all the clubs.
“The Premier League is breaking new barriers and achieving incredible things, so you would never want to say ‘never’,” he added.
“As a football lover you would want to export our league everywhere in the world and get that closeness with the fans around the world.”
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty