Premier League Asia Cup unaffected by SARS

MUMBAI: The SARS epidemic has affected several high profile events to be held in South Asia. However responding to increasing speculation, The FA Premier League has confirmed that the inaugural Asia Cup will take place as scheduled in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 24-27 July 2003.

The event will air on ESPN Star Sports. FA Premier League chairman Dave Richards was quoted as saying: "This is the first football competition sanctioned by the FA Premier League outside England. After having consulted with the relevant authorities and our member clubs who are competing - Birmingham City, Chelsea and Newcastle United - we are of the view that at present the Asia Cup will proceed as planned.

"We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation and stay in close contact with the World Health Organisation and UK and Malaysian governments to ensure that the health and safety of everyone involved in the tournament is no way compromised. However, given the present status of SARS in Malaysia, which is not currently on the World Health Organisation's list of countries not to travel to - and the measures they have put in place - we see no reason at this time to change our commitment to hold this tournament," Richards added.

24 July Birmingham City vs Newcastle United Kick
25 July Malaysia National Team vs Chelsea FC
26 July 3rd/4th Play Off
27 July Final

Looks like the nearly three-month lead time for the tournament has given the organisers the courage to make this announcement. However, the way events are unfolding, there would be few will to make firm wagers on the tourney going ahead.

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