Premier League and Man Utd CEOs to meet AFC

Two of English football's top powerbrokers are flying to Malaysia this week in a bid to negotiate a "peace treaty" over English clubs scheduling commercial friendlies in Asia during the running of the Asian Football Confederation's prestigious Asian Cup in July. English Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards and Manchester United FC chief executive David Gill have a summit in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday with Mohamed Bin Hamman, the AFC's forward-thinking President who has just commenced his second term of office.

According to London's Daily Mail, "Hamman is putting heavy pressure on individual countries to prevent foreign touring teams playing matches from July 7-28 while the Asian Cup is being staged. This demand, subsequently backed by FIFA overlord Sepp Blatter but ignored by the tour organisers, affects United, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Fulham, Bolton and Reading, who have all signed lucrative contracts to play in Asia during the summer. The Premier League have their Asia Tournament in Hong Kong, featuring Liverpool, Portsmouth and Fulham, while Bolton and Reading are in Korea and United are visiting Japan, Macau, Korea and Malaysia."

This is first time UK media have linked the Premier League's Asian Trophy tournament being played this August in Hong Kong with the AFC's dispute with Manchester United's private game in Kuala Lumpur. In both cases the AFC is showing its extreme displeasure that its efforts to raise publicawareness and involvement in top-line Asian competitions are being undermined by Europeans but the Manchester United-Malaysia imbroglio also involves allegations of breach of contract and inducements to breach contract.

Perhaps referring to FIFA's concern about the G-14-origins of the "Champions Youth Cup" scheduled to be played in Malaysia in August, the Daily Mail continued: "Blatter's involvement has raised the stakes in the simmering club v country issue, with the FIFA chief doing all he can to stop the relentless rise in club football, which threatens to destroy the traditional FIFA confederation-national association chain of command. Richards and Gill form an unlikely double act given the current bad feeling between the Premier League and champions United."

See also: Malaysian FA backs Govt support for Man United (14 May) and Barclays Asian Trophy clash with AFC Asian Cup (10 May)