World Cup executive feels Premier League could stage games in the US

A high-ranking US 2026 World Cup executive believes the Premier League could stage fixtures in the country, with the NFL – which stages games overseas – cited as a model.

Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey, is bidding to host the 2026 World Cup final at the state’s MetLife Stadium home to the New York Giants and New York Jets, and hopes the plan to export English football’s elite competition will be revived.

In 2008 the plan of Richard Scudamore, the then Premier League chief executive, to take what was known as a “39th game” overseas met with fierce resistance and was abandoned.

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On Saturday Manchester United beat Arsenal 2-0 at MetLife Stadium, a pre-season friendly organised by Charlie Stillitano, the executive chairman of Relevent Sports Group. Stillitano supports the vision of a 39th game and Murphy is optimistic it could happen.

“I would love to think so,” he said. “I know that the clubs have not been wild about that. The guy who brought this game here [Stillitano], who is a good friend – over the years he has tried to do just that. It’s more what will the clubs from Europe want.

“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 would happen.

“I tell you what’s a good model, the NFL. As you all know, they play real games in Europe with great success. I’m a New England Patriots fan and they are playing the Indianapolis Colts in Frankfurt in November. The stadium is not that big, only 55,000 seats, and they had demand for 700,000 tickets.”

He suggested that if there were a European Super League this could pave the way. Two years ago United and Arsenal were among Premier League clubs who signed up to a proposed ESL that collapsed soon after amid fierce opposition.

Murphy said: “It’s going to be clubs and their fans [who decide], or maybe if there is a different configuration or a super league ever happens. I can say unequivocally, US fans would die to have a real competitive game anywhere in America. If it was in New York/New Jersey, you wouldn’t get near that game.”

Regarding hosting the World Cup final at the MetLife, Murphy said: “We’re fighting like heck to get the final. We think that’s going to get decided in the fall. We think we’ll get eight or nine games [at the World Cup] so that’s eight or nine Super Bowls. The capacity here is 82,500. For the World Cup they’d take out a few seats in the four corners so it would be more like 82,000.

“LA and Dallas’s name comes up from time to time. Miami comes up. We love all of these places but July in Miami, my gut tells me is maybe a bridge too far. [Lionel] Messi may be single-handedly recalculating the odds for Miami but we think when you add everything up we have got the winning package but we’ll see. We’re not taking anything for granted.”

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