English Premier League clubs to play in India?

Premier League
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English Premier League clubs may play in India during their off season. Efforts have been initiated by the Indian Government. Premier League clubs are now regularly playing their off season games at overseas venues. Some Indian States are keen to avail the opportunity and play host to the big ticket events.

The Union Government too is interested in inviting Premier League clubs to India for playing on the facilities developed for the under-17 football World Cup, which India will be hosting in October.

Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas during his visit to the UK last month has had a meeting with the English Premier League’s international relations manager Tim Vine to explore the possibility of bringing top English clubs to India.

“A number of States have shown keen interest in hosting Premier League matches,” Incheti has said. According to Injeti, the Union Government would offer all the help in bringing the EPL clubs to India but not get involved directly for organizing the matches.

Vine has confirmed to Indian Express in an email that the “discussion last month focused more on PL activity in India — and how we are involved in bringing the clubs to India…” He further added that plans on “football development and fan engagement events” were discussed, while touching upon the Premier League Asia Trophy that was held in Hong Kong. English Clubs’ overseas matches are normally planned a year in advance and take place in the month of June and July.

This year, Arsenal and Chelsea have warmed up for the season in Beijing, Manchester United were in the USA for a month, Liverpool prepared in Hong Kong Everton in Tanzania. A Premier League Asia Trophy is also played during the same June-July period.

Premier League is also seeing value in India as one of its biggest markets. India has a Premier League television viewership of around 150 million per season. EPL Clubs are also running their academies in India. Though, poor football infrastructure was blamed for keeping clubs away from bringing their teams to India. However, the readiness for the Under-17 Fifa World Cup is all set to change that scenario.

Sports Ministry is also considering to legalise online sports betting in India. Srinivas has also met the director of UK’s Gambling Commission, Nick Tofiluk, in that regard. There will be further talks on that.

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