India doesn't need EPL: Houghton

India's heaad coach says the Premier League's plans are only for marketing and money-making, and will serve no local interest.

updated: March 03, 2008 13:51 IST
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Bob Houghton, head coach of the Indian football team, has come out strongly against the English Premier League's expansion plans in India, saying the league was more interested in making money than developing Indian footballers.

"To be honest we're fighting quite hard to keep the Premier League out of India," Houghton said in comments published over the weekend about the League's plans to take football around the world, including possibly India.

He said the League's move to send over players Warren Barton and Robbie Earle for the Premier Skills scheme - a training scheme in partnership with the British Council - last month was no more than a marketing exercise.

"They're just marketing the Premier League. Why else are they doing it? And as well as Manchester United, who are also running a cup competition (Manchester United premier Cup), Everton are (also) here. But it's not doing us any favours. It's something we need to be doing ourselves."

Houghton gave the example of a Manchester United camp in Goa as a "marketing thing" that was not in India's interest.

"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 to Manchester for a week's training. It was horrendous, because they were all believing that they'd end up, after three days of judgment, playing for United," Houghton said.

"That sort of marketing thing is in nobody's interest," he told The Observer.

Houghton also accused the Premier League of "crushing... many successful leagues in Asia", saying the League had "engulfed" Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

"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," he said.