Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why I Believe Playing a Premier League Match Will Happen in the US

Over at (a great site, by the way), the Gaffer came out with a post today with his reasoning as to why the Premier League won't play an official league match here in the US. West Ham's chairman, Eggert (Elf-Ears) Magnusson, did an interview with Sky Sports News and claimed it "would be good for the game" and he "could see it happening sooner rather than later."

Personally, I agree with Magnusson on this count. Playing a Premier League game in the US would be a big step towards expanding soccer here and would be, provided the right teams were involved, a welcomed, well-supported concept with fans in America. It's a perfectly feasible thing to schedule as well.

Without further ado, here's why I believe a Premier League game will be played in America:

1. The United States has the type of state of the art, fan-friendly stadiums that don't exist anywhere else in the world. If you want to play a game in a more cozy, soccer fan-specific atmosphere, you can play at Pizza Hut Park in Dallas, the Home Depot Center in suburban LA, or Dick's Sporting Goods Park in suburban Denver. If you want to make it a spectacle, you can play in any of the new, large NFL stadiums, like Reliant Stadium in Houston, Gillette Stadium in suburban Boston, Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, or the University of Phoenix stadium in suburban Phoenix. It all depends on the preference of the executives involved and how much money they want to make while not compromising the integrity and importance of the match. Either way, the fans will be treated to a show and in a stadium that has all the modern conveniences one could ask for.

2. The market in the US is there for the taking. The media bias towards soccer notwithstanding, there are plenty of fans in America who already support teams in the Premier League and the Premier League in general. When the United States hosted the World Cup in 1994 and the Women's World Cup in 1999 and 2003, the passion of the fans was clearly visible in the stands. As the wealthiest country in the world, Premier League teams should be itching at the chance to sell us their overpriced merchandise. Once you get Americans hooked on something, you have them at your mercy. An entertaining match with international stars that actually means something would go a long way towards enlarging our interest in soccer.

3. Teams would love to come to the US. Yes, one of the teams would have to give up a home game, but that would be offset with a share of the ticket sales generated by their game here combined with some sort of compensation given to them by the Premier League. As I said before, a chance to expand their network and popularity to the world's largest market is too great to pass up on, and I don't believe for a second that teams wouldn't want to come to the US to play a game. Teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool have countless supporters here in the US already and playing in front of fans who most likely haven't seen their teams in person before would be a great opportunity for the English clubs.

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