Premier League offers China helping hand

BEIJING - Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore is hoping the hosts and not just Tottenham Hotspur will ultimately be counted as winners of the first Asia Trophy to take place in mainland China this week. Spurs were clearly the best of the four teams in the biennial pre-season tournament and deservedly became the fourth winners of the trophy after a 3-0 win over Hull City on Friday. After Chelsea withdrew there was no top four Premier League club for the first time, Beijing Guoan had a fixture clash so fielded a reserve team in their second match against West Ham United and there were plenty of spare seats. To focus solely on crowd figures would be to miss the point of the exercise, according to Scudamore. "A crowd itself is not the ultimate measure, as long as there is 20,000 or 30,000, that's a lot of people. It's also about creating interest and media interest." the Englishman said. "It's about the experience of the clubs, it's about the coaching and other activities we're doing in the community. "You can't just measure anything in football just by how many people are in the seats. It's more than just playing a football match, that's just the start." Scudamore presides over the most successful league in the world, in marketing terms at least, and he took time this week to talk up the prospects of the Chinese Super League (CSL), which he said could eventually challenge the Premier League. POOR QUALITY That shocked many in China, where the CSL is perceived as being ridden with corruption, violence both on and off the pitch, and poor quality football. Scudamore said it would be "patronising" to offer advice to the Chinese and prefers instead to talk about why the Premier League was so successful. "I can't really offer advice to the Chinese Super League other than, spend as much time as you can deciding what you are going to do, then stick with it," he said. "Take five years if you need, get consensus and then don't vary much from it." The Premier League and Chinese Football Association (CFA) were having an "open-ended dialogue", Scudamore said, and a CFA delegation would be visiting London in mid-August. Of course, Scudamore's main concern is the interests of the 20 clubs which make up his league and there was good news for fans of the Premier League in China at the start of the week. In 2007, small digital TV channel Win TV won the exclusive rights to broadcast the league in China until the end of next season, depriving most Chinese fans of access to the action. Scudamore said the league had played an "integral part" in a deal announced last weekend where one match a week and highlights package would be broadcast on a free to air station next season. "We do understand that exposure is an important part of development," he said. "We are currently thinking about making some free-to-air a pre-requisite, as we do in Africa. There are some clubs who would like the exposure, some clubs who would like the money, and some clubs who would like both, but wouldn't we all?"