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The top flight's chief executive believes the struggles of the "most popular club" in England are having a direct impact on the league's audience

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore believes Manchester United's poor form is harming the league's global appeal.

The Old Trafford outfit have struggled in their first season under the stewardship of manager David Moyes, sitting 18 points adrift of leaders Chelsea with pressure mounting on the former Everton boss.

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And Scudamore has now conceded that disappointing displays by the Premier League's "most popular club" come at a wider cost to the competition internationally.

"It's a double-edged sword," he is quoted as saying by Bloomberg. "When your most popular club isn't doing as well, that costs you interest and audience in some places.

"There's lots of fans around the world who wish Manchester United were winning it again, but you have to balance that off against, generally, we're in the business of putting on a competition and competition means people can compete."

Reports have suggested that the Premier League earn £2.23 billion from the sales of overseas rights to live games, with Asia (£940.8 million) contributing the biggest share of that total.

Seventh-placed United host Aston Villa on Saturday.

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