Saturday 15 March 2014
For many years, the Premier League and its clubs have been actively involved with football in Asia. Aside from pre-season matches held in the region, whether it is the biennial Barclays Asia Trophy or individual club tours, the Premier League has been active in developing the foundations of the game through its Premier Skills programme in 10 countries in the region.
"We recognise that Asia is very significant for the Premier League and for football in general"
This work was formalised and confirmed with a Mutual Cooperation Agreement that was signed on Friday by the Premier League and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in which both organisations will work closely together in the areas of social and commercial development. The agreement was signed by AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa and Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore at the League's offices in London.
The two organisations will work closely to further develop the Premier League's international grassroots coaching project, Premier Skills, while the Premier League will collaborate with the AFC on its One Goal campaign that aims to use the power of football to raise awareness of child malnutrition in Asia.
On the commercial front, the Premier League and AFC will establish seminars and study visits that allow clubs in both regions to share knowledge and expertise, and the AFC will offer strategic advice to the Premier League and its clubs in promotion and marketing work in Asia. In addition, both organisations will encourage the development of club exchange programmes and partnership building between Premier League clubs and professional clubs in the AFC region.
Of the 804 million homes to which the Barclays Premier League is broadcast, more than half (52.7%) are in the AFC region and the average weekly audience in Asia is an estimated 25-30 million.
"We are extremely pleased to be consolidating and formalising the work we are doing with the AFC through this agreement," Scudamore said. "We recognise that Asia is very significant for the Premier League and for football in general, and this agreement will be of mutual benefit to the Premier League and its clubs and the AFC and its members.
"We want to focus more on the grass roots and on social responsibility and the experience and expertise of the Premier League can really help us"
Shaikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa
"Everything from more and better social development projects, commercial knowledge sharing, refereeing training and club exchanges will take place as part of this collaboration and we look forward to working with the AFC for years to come."
Shaikh Salman said that the signing of the agreement was "not just the ink on the paper but a long-term agreement and understanding for the benefit of football on the Asian continent".
He added: "The Premier League is a well-known organisation with followers around the world and in Asia there is a huge fanbase. As a region we want to focus more on the grass roots and on social responsibility and the experience and expertise of the Premier League in those areas can really help us."
As well as Premier Skills, the Premier League has also been working with the AFC on a number of projects, including a referee-exchange programme where the region's top five match officials visited England last week to train with the PGMO Select Group that provides match officials for Barclays Premier League fixtures. For more click here >>