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."
|Bundesliga: Borussia Dortmund season review - Klopp endures rocky farewell|
|Adler ´aged three years´, Labbadia ´extremely proud´ of Hamburg|
|Colombia squad settles in Argentina|
|Balotelli ´a target´ because of Liverpool form - Richards|
|Bosnich: If I´d listened to Terry I would have avoided drugs|
|Luiz Gustavo ruled out of Brazil´s Copa America squad|
|Mexico confirm Copa squad|
|Pogba ´very happy´ at Juve|
|Pogba can be Europe´s greatest - Pirlo|
|Pinedo stays in Argentina, Bolivia captain Raldes in Copa America squad|
|Quinteros cuts Banguera, Hidalgo for Chile showpiece|
|Injured Gonzalez misses Copa America, Venezuela finalise youthful squad|
|Champions League Final: Buffon plays down Juve hopes, Iniesta doubtful|
|Karlsruher 1 Hamburg 2 (2-3 agg): Muller strike ensures survival|
|CONCACAF official Sanz banned by FIFA|
|Gourvennec shuns admirers with Guingamp extension|
|Pastore signs PSG extension|
|Morel swaps Marseille for Lyon|
|Watford sign Austria defender Prodl|
|Monaco confirm Berbatov departure|
|Peru v Mexico: Herrera confident as Copa preparations continue|
|Injury rules Dost out of Netherlands friendlies|
|Koeman must strengthen attack for Europa League challenge - McMenemy|
|Wilshere apologises for Spurs taunts|
|Marchisio: No fear ahead of Barcelona clash|
|Klopp to take break after leaving Dortmund|
|Champions League win would be ´more than extraordinary´ - Allegri|
|Charity calls for education after Leicester ´racist orgy´ claims|
|Taylor agrees Swansea deal|
|Sevilla snare Krohn-Dehli|
|Coloccini hails Gutierrez after ´perfect´ Newcastle finale|
|Benitez excited by Madrid opportunity|
|Sampaoli confirms final Chile squad for Copa America|
|Clement ready to go it alone at Derby|
|Mihajlovic confirms Sampdoria exit|
|Brentford turn to Dijkhuizen|
|Usami, Moto to lead Japan qualifying threat|
|Vieira ´the best bet´ for Newcastle - Bernard|
|´We´ll see what happens with my future´ - De Gea|
|Klinsmann: Guzan will start at Gold Cup|
|Alves wants Barca extension not PSG - Blanc|
|Derby appoint Paul Clement as head coach|
|Karlsruher ´can only win´ - Kauczinski|
|Ronaldinho causes stir with disallowed goal|
|Szczesny plans Arsenal stay|
|Pioli: Lazio deserve Champions League qualification|
|Pablo Aimar makes River Plate return|
|MLS Review: Seattle leave it late against Red Bulls|
|Wenger: Arsenal won´t spend big|
|Police to investigate Rangers-Motherwell fight|
|´I will definitely stay´ at City - Toure|
|Champagne backs Blatter to reform FIFA|
|Honduras 2 El Salvador 0: Penalty, goal and red card to Lozano|
|Mancini wants Icardi to stay|
|Sampdoria set to speak on Mihajlovic future|
|Serie A Review: Napoli miss Champions League in Benitez send-off|
|O´Neill: Fitness of players will determine selection against Romania|
|Inter 4 Empoli 3: Icardi brace secures victory|
|Northern Ireland 1 Qatar 1: Irish cough up lead|
|Eredivisie Review: Five-star Vitesse seal Europa berth, NAC Breda relegated|
|Motherwell 3 Rangers 0 (6-1 agg): Miserable return for McCall|
|Wilshere taunts Spurs during FA Cup parade|
|Di Francesco pens Sassuolo extension|
|Klopp thanks Dortmund for emotional farewell|
|Italy call up uncapped duo|
|Walcott expects Arsenal deal|
|Luiz dreaming of Champions League glory|
|Leicester trio issue apology as club investigate alleged ´racist orgy´|
|Gerrard ´a dream to play with´, says Sturridge|
|Clasie a target if Schneiderlin leaves - Koeman|
|Muller appears to pledge future to Bayern in Instagram post|
|Sheikh Mansour wants Toure at City - agent|
|Real vice-president inadvertently ´confirms´ Benitez appointment|
|Pique targeting Barca ´perfection´|
|Malanda helped us a lot - De Bruyne|
|Falcao not focused on transfer speculation|
|Iniesta in doubt for Champions League final|
|Blanc hoping for FFP boost|
|Willian, Filipe Luis, Cuadrado to miss Premier League start|
|Mourinho: Chelsea not playing Sydney ´for fun´|
|MLS Review: Shipp sinks Montreal, Giovinco stars for Toronto|
|Luis Enrique targets ´exemplary treble´, basks in Messi´s magic|
|Iraola: Neymar ´rainbow´ unsporting|
|Mexico 3 Guatemala 0: Herrera brace ensures farewell victory|
|´I´m not going to change the way I play´ - Neymar|
|PSG motivated by historic opportunity - Douchez|
|Wenger hopes Wembley win convinces Walcott to stay|
|Klopp refuses to dwell on departure after cup heartbreak|