Outrage over plans that could see Newcastle and Sunderland playing competitive Premier League fixtures abroad

Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet
Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet

A SUNDERLAND-based national supporters’ group has hit out at plans that could see Premier League matches played abroad.

The Premier League is exploring the possibility of holding competitive matches overseas in a move which could affect Newcastle United and Sunderland.

But the plans have been criticised by the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF), based in Ashbrooke, who say the impact on supporters could be “enormous”.

They argue the idea has come about without any consultation with the fans, and they are urging supporters to contact them with their views.

The FSF say if the plans get the go-ahead it is “inevitable” some of the fixtures to be moved will be either derby matches or other high-profile fixtures.

Controversial plans for a ‘39th game’ were axed back in 2008 after strong criticism but clubs are now understood to be considering playing an existing match aboard.

That would keep the Premier League season at 38 games but prominent supporters’ group the FSF has hit out at the plans.

A Football Supporters’ Federation spokesman said: “Once again the idea of potentially huge changes to the game has arisen without consultation with one of the groups who matters most - the fans.

“If the reaction to previous incarnations of ‘Game 39’ and the idea of matches abroad is anything to go by, we expect this proposal to be met with the strongest possible opposition from supporters.

“The potential impact on the value of season tickets, which would see fans of half the Premier League clubs missing out a home match, could be enormous.

“Inevitably some of the fixtures to be moved will be either local derbies or other high-profile fixtures.

“The FSF is against the proposals as they have been reported, and will be consulting with Premier League fans’ groups and individuals to formulate an appropriate response.”

While the plans are at an early stage, the proposal could be in place within six years.

Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce told BBC Sport that world football’s governing body would prefer leagues to be played in the countries in which they are based.

He added: “It is something that needs some serious thinking and the views of Fifa and Uefa must be sought.”

To have your say on the proposals email info@fsf.org.uk, leave a comment on their Facebook page or tweet @the_fsf.