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Asian football boss sees England's Premiership as ideal partners

Asian Football boss Mohamed bin Hammam sees England's Premiership as the ideal partner to strengthen the game across the region. He told the Independent: "There is too much foreign football on our continent, but I am a big fan of the Premier League and I was really impressed with the way they are developing their thoughts about developing the game in Asia.

"In the past there were no ideas, but now they know people want something left behind and they are up to the mark.

"Whatever plans the Premier League has for its future the AFC is ready to advise and support."

Bin Hammam, though, feels there are still many hurdles to overcome before the dream of a Premier League game being played within the confederation moves closer to reality.

"The moment some leagues are going to be played outside their territories, it is shocking news. You just want to digest it," he said. "To see the English league played in China or wherever is strange. A lot of people in the confederation like the idea because they haven't thought about it from the same angle as me.

"I am not saying I have changed my mind totally, but they are exploring ideas. They haven't decided anything, they were just discussing things.

"There was a time when they came to us to ask if we would welcome them and we talked the idea out."

However, Bin Hammam stressed: "What does worry me and makes me nervous is because the TV channels are willing to pay these huge amounts to show the Premier League and not to broadcast their local leagues.

"That is a worry, not fans attaching themselves to the Premier League. But unless our congress gives us the power to prevent such actions [as the 39th game], then I don't think we can do anything.

"I am depending more on the understanding of the Premier League chairman. I want them to see that we are legitimate partners."

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