Premier League and Major League Soccer Sign Exclusive Agreement

major_league_soccer_logo_small.jpgThe Premier League and Major League Soccer today announced a landmark agreement to establish a tournament during the summer to be played in the United States beginning in 2009.

Full details have yet to be announced, but here’s what we understand thus far. From mid-July to early August, four Premier League teams will compete in games against Major League Soccer teams. The benefit for the EPL sides is that they’ll gain considerable match practice before the league begins in early August. For Major League Soccer, the matches against the Premier League sides will provide a welcome mid-summer break to play quality opposition. The tournament will replace the All-Star game that MLS has traditionally played during the same time of the year.

From a marketing perspective, these games make perfect sense for both leagues. With the chances of the 39th game being extinguished by FIFA, the tournament in the United States gives Premier League teams a perfect chance to showcase the world’s best soccer league stateside as well as to earn significant amounts of revenue through ticket sales.

For Major League Soccer, the tournament will raise awareness and credibility of the league worldwide. At the same time, it’ll also allow the MLS teams to see how they stack up against quality opposition. Overseas, especially in the United Kingdom, Major League Soccer is still viewed as a laughing stock by many journalists and unknowing football supporters. This tournament will go a long way to either eradicating that viewpoint or strengthening it, depending on how the MLS teams perform.

The four teams from the Premier League that will be competing in the tournament next season haven’t been announced yet, but rumors are that Aston Villa, Portsmouth, Everton and Chelsea are interested.

If those four teams are the ones who enter the tournament alongside the 16 Major League Soccer clubs, my prediction is that you’ll see an all English semi-final with the four teams competing against each other after beating MLS sides earlier in the competition. The real question is whether it’ll be Villa, Pompey, the Toffees or Chelsea lifting the trophy. Based on Pompey’s success in the 2007 Asia Trophy Cup, my money is on Harry Redknapp’s side.

Another benefit for MLS is the boost in attendances that these games against Premier League sides will create. By piggybacking on the global success of the Premier League, Major League Soccer will bring new fans into stadiums, generate significant sums of money from ticket sales and will raise the standards of quality of games.

It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

14 thoughts on “Premier League and Major League Soccer Sign Exclusive Agreement”

  1. This is fantastic. This can benefit both MLS and the Premier League. It will give MLS a huge lift in media coverage during the tournament and if one MLS team can sneak into the semis it would be amazing for the league. Now, when is Arsenal going to sign up and play FC Dallas at home???

  2. Wonderful news, I will now go ahead and book that long-awaited summer holiday in the States – let me know Gaffer when it is confirmed that Everton are one of the English participants. Can’t wait!

  3. MLS already has a tournament like this over the summer with the Mexican League, a league with much more fan support and much higher TV ratings than the PL in the USA. So unless MLS is going to shelve a successful foray into the real soccer market in this country (ie. Latinos) to please the small numbers of people who watch European Football I don’t see it happening. In fact I am pretty sure it will not happen.

  4. The gig is up. Yep, it was an April fools joke. But I wouldn’t be totally surprised if something like this happened in the future.

    Kartik raised a good point about the Mexican teams playing a aimilar tournament, but if MLS wants to expand its audience beyond the Latinos and into white suburbia, the Premier League teams could be their ticket.

    The Gaffer

  5. Dude, not cool. You got me. Hook, line, and sinker. Especially the part about Pompey!!!


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