U.S. World Cup organisers 'would die' to host Premier League football Stateside

U.S. World Cup organisers 'would die' to host Premier League football Stateside

Will the Premier League have a 39th game in the US? – Telegraph/Custom image

World Cup organisers in the US have claimed they would ‘die’ for the opportunity to host a competitive Premier League match in a move that could resurrect talk about a so-called ‘39th game’.

The idea of playing an extra round of fixtures abroad was first suggested in 2008 but never got off the ground amid criticism from fans and the media, despite some clubs being in favour.

America is due to host the World Cup jointly with Canada and Mexico in 2026 and one of the country’s most prominent host cities says there is a huge appetite to stage Premier League fixtures there.

Phil Murphy, the Democratic Governor of New Jersey who is pushing hard for the Metlife Stadium – home of the New York Giants and New York Jets NFL franchises, to host the 2026 World Cup final – has said it would be a dream to bring Premier League football to the US.

“I can say, unequivocally, we would die to have a real competitive game anywhere in America,” Murphy said.

Richard Scudamore, the former executive chairman and chief executive of the Premier League, said last year he believes there will come a point where fixtures are played abroad and the success of exporting NFL games to Europe is said to have not gone unnoticed by American owners of Premier League clubs.

And while league sources maintain there are no imminent plans to explore the possibility of playing fixtures overseas, England’s top tier is stepping up efforts to capitalise on its explosion in popularity in the US, and last week opened an office in New York for the first time.

Instead of playing regular league fixtures abroad, the league agreed in April it would stage its first-ever pre-season tournament in the US – the inaugural Premier League Summer Series, featuring eight top flight sides including Chelsea and Newcastle. It is the second competition affiliated to the league to be hosted outside England after the Premier League Asia Trophy.

Premier League clubs agreed in February 2008 to explore the option of playing an extra round of matches overseas at five different venues, with cities bidding for the right to stage them. The plan involved four Premier League teams travelling to each venue with a game played at each on Saturday and Sunday.

Murphy said he hoped the Premier League – or Uefa with the Champions League – would come to embrace the idea in the way the NFL have done with competitive overseas matches.

The so-called NFL international series involves games being played in England, Mexico and Germany but there has so far been resistance to the Premier League adopting something similar.

“I know that the clubs have not been wild about that in Europe,” said Murphy, who was at the MetLife Stadium on Saturday to watch Manchester United play Arsenal.

“I would assume that Man United and Arsenal view this as a good brand, putting your best players out there, 82,000 fans in New York/New Jersey. I’d love to think that it [a Premier League match here] would happen.”

He added: “[Equally] you could have Barcelona playing Real Madrid in New Jersey at some point in a regular season or in a Champions League game. I would love that.

“The NFL is a good model. They play real games in Europe with great success. I would just appeal to the Champions League and Uefa to play a game here.”

More immediately, Murphy – who was asked by the US president Joe Biden to be part of both the US men and women’s World Cup delegation in Qatar and New Zealand respectively but could not commit to either role – is lobbying for the MetLife Stadium to be chosen as the venue for the 2026 World Cup final.

He anticipates that New Jersey/New York will end up hosting eight or nine World Cup matches but is eager to beat the likes of Los Angeles, Dallas and Miami as the preferred pick for the final.

Murphy, who owns the NJ/NY Gotham FC women’s team with his wife Tammy, said he anticipates a decision will be made in the autumn.

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