Gill cool on 39th step
UNITED chief executive David Gill has dismissed the prospect of a 39th game being added to the Premier League season despite the phenomenal support the Reds are receiving on their current Far East tour. Malaysian supporters booed their own national side in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, such is the fervour with which they hold United, while supporters have been mounting a 24-hour vigil outside the team hotel in Seoul since Sir Alex Ferguson and his side landed in South Korea on Wednesday night. Similar scenes would have been expected in Jakarta if United had not been forced to cancel their visit following last week's suicide bombings, and there is more to come in China at the weekend, when the Reds tackle Hangzhou Greentown. Little wonder senior football figures believe it is time the controversial 39th game proposal was revived after its initial airing received a hostile reception. As the man in charge of England's most profitable club, Gill might have seen the attraction of such a plan, particularly as United have a £700million debt to service. However, Gill thinks the plan is unworkable, either as an additional fixture tagged on to the present 38 games, or incorporated within it. "It is highly unlikely," said Gill. "If you are talking about a 39th game how do you get the symmetry? If it was the 38th whose home game would it be? How do you decide who will play where? "The domestic competition is the domestic competition. The Premier League is the Premier League in England. Lucrative "The Premier League should still look at opportunities and ideas but I cannot see an extra game happening. It would be a step too far." What is open to possibility, in addition to the lucrative pre-season jaunts enjoyed by the likes of United, Liverpool and Chelsea, are mid-season friendlies when the fixture list allows. A couple of years ago, United headed to Saudi Arabia to play a January testimonial and already Manchester City have confirmed they will play UAE in Abu Dhabi on November 12. There are even whispers that United and Liverpool might be offered a tidy sum to renew traditional hostilities in India at some point before Christmas. "Those games would naturally be more opportunistic in terms of how we are doing in any particular season," reflected Gill. "If, for any reason, there is a week or 10-day break in the fixture programme where Alex feels it would be beneficial to take a break, we would look at that. "It would all be driven by the football side but we would not rule that out at all." It is another example of the Premier League's popularity allowing major clubs to buck the trend of a global recession. Gill, meanwhile, insists United were correct to take the trip despite criticism of the schedule following the bombings and claims increased security will not affect future tours. "Indonesia is a huge country. We have 28 million fans there," he said. "We took a lot of advice, researched it and spoke to the relevant people. No-one said don't go. If the authorities had done that, we would not have gone. "Without doubt we made the right decision to go and, regrettable as it was, we made the right decision to pull out. "Security will become a more important factor in future but I don't see a point where we will have to stop touring. "We survive, take care and move forward." What do you think? Have your say.
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