Premier League CEO: Games in U.S. not in our ‘current plans’

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said the league currently has no plans to take games to the United States, though suggested that could change pending a lawsuit in Manhattan.

FIFA has shifted its long-time policy of blocking domestic league games being played on the territory of another member federation by withdrawing this month from an antitrust suit filed by U.S. promoter Relevent Sports. The suit is also against the U.S. Soccer Federation.

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If league games could be organized abroad, European leagues and clubs — especially in England and Spain — could expect offers from the United States, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

“It’s not part of our current plans, it really isn’t,” Masters said on Friday at a news conference after the 34-nation European Leagues group met in London.

Still, Masters said uncertainty over the court case meant “no one quite knows exactly what is happening but the door looks ajar potentially in America, at any rate, for matches abroad.”

European Leagues managing director Jacco Swart said taking games abroad was “definitely not on the agenda” of the group yet.

“I’m not saying never but currently it’s not a point on our agenda,” said Swart, a former executive at the Netherlands’ Eredivisie league, who noted U.S. sports leagues routinely schedule games in London and other European cities.

Speaking earlier this week, LaLiga president Javier Tebas was more bullish on the idea of taking games to the U.S.

“I don’t know when, but this time LaLiga will play official games abroad,” Tebas told Expansión. “I think it could be from the 2025-26 season.

“An official game in the United States would strengthen our position in the North American market, which is the second [biggest] for LaLiga after Spain.”

FIFA forcefully blocked a 2018 plan by Spain’s LaLiga to take a game involving Barcelona, then still with Lionel Messi in the team, and Girona to Miami where Messi now plays.

The FIFA policy is less clear now, and Masters lamented how Europe’s leagues had poor relations with the Zurich-based organization.

There was no “meaningful dialogue” with FIFA, Masters said, while UEFA gave a seat on its decision-making executive committee to the leagues group.

“There is a chasm really between the style of consultation with leagues between UEFA and FIFA, where there is none,” the Premier League official said.

FIFA’s first monthlong Club World Cup will kick off in June next year, with 12 European clubs among the 32 teams playing in the United States. Real Madrid and Manchester City qualified to be in it, but Barcelona and American-owned Manchester United did not.

Tens of millions of dollars in prize money paid by FIFA risks further widening wealth gaps among European clubs, and adds up to seven more games on player workload for teams that reach the final.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.