Sheepshanks backs overseas matches idea

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks today gave his approval to the plan to play Premier League matches abroad.

Elvin King

By ELVIN KING

elvin.king@archant.co.uk

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks today gave his approval to the plan to play Premier League matches abroad.

“Marcus Evans wants to make Ipswich Town into a global brand, and this fits into his plans,” said Sheepshanks.

Although a member of the main Football Association board, Sheepshanks was speaking personally when he added: “I am not surprised this has been mooted.

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“I was at Wembley last year when an NFL American football game was played.

“It was packed out, very exciting and a big success. And they are going to do it again.

“There were sceptics when English teams started playing in European competition in the 1950's with the Inter-City Fairs Cup.

“And look how far this has moved on.

“The Premier League is one of the most valuable media products in the world with over 600 million people watching the Premier League on TV around the world.

“Playing games abroad is a natural extension.

“It is a commercial move of course, but when balanced out I am convinced it will be a huge success.”

Sheepshanks sees no problem with season ticket holders and fans losing out because of an extra game in the fixture list being played thousands of miles away.

“Travelling is so much easier these days and many supporters - who used to follow us all over Europe - will relish I think the chance to go 'on tour' again.

“I would hope that Ipswich will be in the Premier League at the time if this idea gets the green light.

“Marcus Evans has a vision of the club being a global brand and this would bring untold benefits to Ipswich Town and also to Suffolk in general.

“But when all is said and done, there needs to be much more flesh on the bone relating to the governance and integrity of competition.

“There is clearly a lot more talking to be done before the idea is realised.”

While Sheepshanks is in principle for the idea, Town manager Jim Magilton has a differing view.

The Blues boss said: “I don't see it as a good idea.

“Players are already asked to do a great deal of travelling, and this will add a lot of extra mileage.

“At the end of the day it will come down to money and big bucks will be involved.

“Premier League clubs may have to put up with it.

“But I can understand season tickets holders, who pay good money, being unhappy with the suggestion.”

N (SQUARE) WOULD you go and watch Premier League Ipswich play in Hong Kong? Have your say. Write to sports desk, Evening Star, 30, Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail starsport@eveningstar.co.uk.

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