LONDON (AFP) - Mohamed Bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Confederation, is ready to do a u-turn and back the Premier League's controversial plan to play a 39th round of fixtures in cities across the world.
Bin Hammam was instrumental in the Premier League's decision to withdraw their scheme in February after launching a scathing attack on the idea.
Several venues in his Confederation, including Kuala Lumper, Abu Dhabi and Tokyo, were targeted as likely hosts of the additional Premier League game, so Bin Hamman's criticism inevitably threw a roadblock across the plan.
But Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore is working on a fine-tuned version with club chairmen and has realised it is essential to get the support of Asian's leading football figure.
A meeting between Scudamore and Bin Hammam has been arranged in London this week to underline the Premier League's intention to leave a positive legacy in Asia.
That has put Bin Hammam in a more conciliatory mood and he is willing to change his mind - as long as he sees concrete evidence that the English game will lay foundations for the long-term development of Asian football rather than just use the fixtures as a means to rake in huge sums of television and gate revenue.
"We had no contact at all before the news came out, zero. Their approach has changed now," Bin Hammam told journalists in London on Thursday.
"I am going to see a presentation with Richard (Scudamore) about what the Premier League can do to help football in Asia and around the world. We should be partners and know what is the benefit for us.
"I want all the technical assistance they can provide. I know some people will think financial assistance can be part of a deal but I am not welcoming that.
"Any assistance has to go to providing coaching, workshops and offering their academies to the young people.
"We want them to convey their experiences to us. We want them to share with us their secret of success; to tell us what are the keys that can help our football. By showing us administration, technical level and supporting our coaches.
"Until now, no Asian referees can take part in European football, even in the third level. By bringing our officials into their environment, these are things which will benefit us.
"There can be financial assistance but we must teach the people how to fish and survive for life and don't just give them the fish."
Bin Hammam, 60, was stunned when he first heard the Premier League plan but as a lifelong Liverpool fan he has always had an affinity with English football, so he is determined to foster a strong relationship with Scudamore.
"The moment some leagues are going to be played outside their territories, it is shocking news," he said. "You just want to digest it. To see the English league played in China or wherever is strange.
"I am not saying I have changed my mind totally but they are exploring ideas.
"In the past there were no ideas but now they know people want something left behind and they are up to the mark. There are no issues between Asia, myself and the Premier League.
"Whatever plans the Premier League has for its future the AFC is ready to advise and support.
"I'm proud of our relationship with the Premier League. There is too much foreign football on our continent but I'm a big fan of the Premier League."
The popularity of the Premier League in Asia has grown quickly over the last decade as television networks in the region feed fans a vast diet of live coverage from the English top-flight.
Bin Hammam isn't worried about losing fans to the Premier League but he would prefer a poriton of the television to remain in Asia.
"Most foreign revenue for the Premier League is coming from Asia. People love to see the Premier League clubs," he said.
"It doesn't worry me because of the fans. It worries and makes me nervous because of the tv channels that are willing to pay these huge amounts to show the Premier League and not to broadcast their local leagues.
"That is a worry, not fans attaching themselves to the Premier League."
|Ozil blow for Arsenal|
|Simeone salutes second-half display|
|Championship Wrap: Reading stun Leeds, Blackpool end barren streak|
|UEFA Champions League: Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1 (3-1 agg)|
|UEFA Champions League: Atletico Madrid 4 Milan 1 (5-1 agg)|
|AFC Champions League Wrap: Mariners overcome Sanfrecce, Seoul held|
|Cousillas: City can stun Barca|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Sevilla v Real Betis|
|Charlton appoint Riga|
|New deal for Heimeroth|
|FA reject Walters appeal|
|Mertens tipped for starring role|
|Aluko getting back to his best|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Lyon v Viktoria Plzen|
|Grosso takes control of Juve´s youth team|
|Blanc: PSG still playing Euro catch-up|
|Kaboul ban overturned|
|Pardew hit with seven-game ban|
|McCann blow for Wigan|
|Cabaye has no regrets over PSG move|
|Martinez taking no risks with Jagielka|
|I turned down Juve in 2012 - Robben|
|Lambert wants more from Tonev|
|Wanchope: City can beat Barcelona|
|Wanchope: City can beat Barcelona|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Tottenham v Benfica|
|Remy hungry for World Cup place|
|Martino: We have not been consistent|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Ludogorets v Valencia|
|Inter unlikely to make moves for Dzeko, Torres|
|American firm acquire United shares|
|Callejon predicting strong Napoli era|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Juventus v Fiorentina|
|Eto´o hints at Chelsea stay|
|Hughton pleased with Bassong performances|
|Barca treble still on the cards - Alexis|
|Monk: Michu close to Swansea return|
|Solskjaer hoping to inspire Cardiff strikers|
|Toprak: Restoring pride is important|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: AZ v Anzhi|
|Charlton sack Powell after FA Cup exit|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Basel v Red Bull Salzburg|
|Move on from Diouf blow - Dufner|
|Fonte backs Rodriguez for World Cup|
|Stoke fear extended Huth absence|
|Anichebe calls for West Brom spirit|
|Courtois rubbishes Real rumours|
|Zenit thank sacked Spalletti|
|Manchester City positive ahead of Barcelona trip|
|Martinez hopes for Deulofeu stay|
|Kroos undecided on future|
|CONCACAF Champions League: Alajuelense 0 Arabe Unido 0|
|Argentina Primera Division Wrap: Velez Sarsfield close in on top|
|Paraguay Division Profesional Wrap: Nacional Asuncion into second|
|De Boer planning Ajax stay|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Porto v Napoli|
|La Liga Wrap: Strugglers Rayo, Malaga pick up valuable away wins|
|Primeira Liga: Maritimo 2 Vitoria Guimaraes 1|
|UEFA Champions League Preview: Paris Saint-Germain v Bayer Leverkusen|
|Turkish Super Lig Wrap: Fenerbahce, Trabzonspor clash abandoned|
|Seedorf upbeat over Milan chances|
|Wenger outlines Arsenal belief|
|Russian Premier League Wrap: Lokomotiv go top, Anzhi post first win|
|UEFA Champions League Preview: Barcelona v Manchester City|
|Castro calls for fans´ support|
|Survival fight wide open, says Mutch|
|Bruce calls for league focus|
|Hoeness admits tax fraud|
|Shea returns to Stoke|
|Van den Brom leaves Anderlecht|
|Stevens ready for Stuttgart challenge|
|Liverpool clash excites Carrick|
|Villa eyeing top-half finish, claims Bertrand|
|Silva happy to remain in Paris|
|Gosling admits FA charge|
|Getafe confirm Contra as new coach|
|Reina considers future America move|
|Giroud: We must believe against Bayern|
|Wolves lodge complaints over alleged racist abuse|
|Gladbach sign Sommer to replace Ter Stegen|
|Getafe part company with Garcia|
|Strootman World Cup hopes in serious doubt|
|Clyne backs Palace to survive|
|Liverpool striving for perfection, says Allen|
|Simeone expecting tough Milan test|
|De Guzman confident ahead of West Brom clash|
|Guardiola wary of Arsenal threat|
|Mel speculation is ´crazy´, says Foster|
|Taarabt not fearing Atletico|
|Mourinho expects to lose Torres for ´couple of weeks´|
|Heitinga: Survival a trophy for Fulham|
|Carvajal plays down injury fears|
|Oxlade-Chamberlain eyes Arsenal cup success|
|Benitez praises Reina, Higuain|
|Shaw focusing on Southampton not England|
|Bayern must be aggressive, says Guardiola|
|Venezuela Primera Division Wrap: Zamora increase advantage with Tachira scalp|
|Uruguay Primera Division Wrap: Nacional capitalise on Fenix fumble|
|Liga MX Wrap: Tigres UANL end Cruz Azul unbeaten run|
|Ecuador Primera A Wrap: Independiente, Loja slip up to send Emelec top|
|Costa Rica Primera Division Wrap: Wins for Herediano, Deportivo Saprissa|
|Liga del Futbol Profesional Boliviano Wrap: Club Universitario open gap|
|Chile Primera Division Wrap: Colo Colo cruise past Union La Calera|
|Benitez: 11th-hour injuries could not halt Napoli|
|La Liga Wrap: Real capitalise on Barca slip-up, Valencia and Bilbao draw|
|Primeira Liga Wrap: Benfica extend lead, Porto close in on Sporting|
|Garcia frustrated by toothless Roma|