'English harm Asian game'

LONDON - India manager Bob Houghton believes English Premier League clubs who try to establish links with Asian football are damaging the region's own leagues.

LONDON - India manager Bob Houghton believes English Premier League clubs who try to establish links with Asian football are damaging the region's own leagues.

Houghton is convinced the widespread coverage of the Premier League in Asia has already taken its toll on the development of domestic football in the region.

The former China coach was horrified when the Premier League revealed their plan to play a 39th round of fixtures in cities across the world.

Although the proposal is unlikely to go ahead after heavy criticism from the sport's governing bodies, Houghton is desperate to ensure fans concentrate on the local product rather than watching the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool on television.

"To be honest, we're fighting quite hard to keep the Premier League out of India," Houghton said.

"The Premier League is responsible for the crushing of many successful leagues in Asia. In Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong the Premier League has engulfed them.

"Now, if they start playing games here as well, I just can't see anything that commends it other than the possibility for the Premier League to make more money. What else could it be to do with? "Let me tell you something that was absolutely dreadful. Last October, Manchester United had 5,000 kids in the Nehru stadium here in Goa to select 11 boys to go Manchester for a week's training," Houghton told the Observer.

"It was horrendous, because they were all believing that they'd end, after three days of judgement, playing for United. That sort of marketing thing is in nobody's interests." - Sapa-AFP

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