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Friday, July 19, 2024

Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool to face each other in U.S. pre-season

Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool are set to play one another in the United States this summer as the Premier League’s most famous teams descend on North America for pre-season.

Manchester United and Arsenal played one another during pre-season in July 2023, where Erik Ten Hag’s team defeated Arsenal 2-0 in New Jersey, and the clubs are set for a rematch this summer in the U.S. The host cities for this summer’s games and precise dates are not yet known.

The match between United and Arsenal at MetLife Stadium sold out last summer, according to event organizer AEG, while the ticket sales revenue made it the highest-grossing club soccer game at the venue since the stadium opened in 2010. Both clubs, as well, as Liverpool, are majority-owned by U.S. investors, due to continuing control by the Kroenke family at Arsenal, the Glazer family at Manchester United and Fenway Sports Group at Liverpool. Arsenal also played a friendly match against Barcelona at the SoFi stadium in Los Angeles last summer and the venue is owned by the Kroenke family. Manchester United, meanwhile, will play at least one game in pre-season at the Snapdragon stadium in San Diego, as part of the club’s agreement for Qualcomm (of which Snapdragon is a subsidiary) to sponsor the front of the club’s shirt in the coming seasons. United also played in Las Vegas and Houston last summer.

Both United and Arsenal will also face Liverpool, who are preparing for their first pre-season without manager Jurgen Klopp after he announced on Friday he will resign from his role at the club at the end of the current campaign.

Chelsea and treble-winners Manchester City are also due to travel to the U.S. this summer and the two clubs are in discussions to play a friendly match against each other.
Last summer saw the inaugural Premier League Summer Series in the U.S, where Chelsea, Brighton, Brentford, Newcastle, Fulham and Aston Villa participated in a set of games spread across Philadelphia, Atlanta, Orlando, New Jersey and Maryland. This summer will not see a repeat of this event in the U.S.

There are several issues with the Summer Series, one of which is an ongoing dispute within the Premier League, because the Premier League centrally wish to package a collective broadcast deal to show the fixtures, but a number of Premier League clubs earn significant revenue by selling subscriptions to watch pre-season fixtures on their own platforms, and believe they can earn more lucrative match fees by organising games by striking deals with promoters for themselves. The Premier League would argue that there is a longer-term gain to be had in exposing some clubs, who are newer to the American market, with opportunities to showcase their talents stateside, all of which has the potential to drive up the international value of the competition. The Premier League say they beat internal targets for last summer’s edition on ticket sales, with over 260,000 soccer fans attending the series in the U.S.

The Premier League also broadcast the fixture on NBC in the U.S. last summer, but this summer’s calendar is also occupied by coverage of Copa America and the Olympic Games.

The Premier League have also considered interchanging the series between the U.S. and Asia, which remains a possibility for this summer, but it would likely to be a smaller tournament than last season’s six-team edition, while Tottenham are likely to be the biggest name club touring Asia. Yet Spurs have made clear to the Premier League they will not be participating in a summer series even if it does take place there.

Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea are all returning to the U.S. for a second consecutive summer, while Liverpool did pre-season last summer in Singapore and Manchester City travelled to Japan and South Korea.

The Premier League’s most established clubs are all travelling to the U.S. this summer as they have calculated that the summers of 2025 and 2026 are likely to be congested in the American soccer market due to the launch of the FIFA Club World Cup on the east coast of America in 2025, before the U.S, along with Mexico and Canada, host the men’s World Cup in 2026. As such, this summer is seen as a vital opportunity to secure big match appearance fees and tap into a growing appetite for Premier League clubs in the U.S.

Clubs see it as a way to connect with emerging fanbases in a key market. Arsenal, for example, have more U.S. supporters clubs than there are U.S. states, while Manchester United last summer engaged over 4,000 supporters in club-affiliated events including question-and-answer sessions with club legends, activations with local charities, open training, pool parties and soccer schools.

(Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

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