European football chiefs have admitted they are “exploring different ideas” as discussions continue behind the scenes to bring a renewed UEFA Super Cup to the US.
The PA news agency understands that significant talks have taken place about a four-team Super Cup to be played as a season opener in the US from 2024, potentially featuring the champions of Major League Soccer alongside the winners of UEFA’s three men’s club competitions.
Nasser Al Khelaifi, who in addition to being chairman of the European Club Association and president of Paris St Germain is a member of UEFA’s executive committee, was asked if it was out of the question to take UEFA matches outside Europe at ECA’s general assembly in Istanbul on Friday.
He said: “We didn’t discuss America, specifically, we didn’t agree on anything in the first place.
“What we’re trying to do is help grow and develop our competitions. We have the right to think about it, explore different ideas and see what makes sense or not, but for today I can’t confirm anything.
“But why not look at all the opportunities we have to grow our clubs and competitions?”
UEFA and ECA see the USA as a major growth market. They have achieved a 150 percent increase in the value of their English-language broadcast rights in the United States as part of their new commercial joint venture, compared to the current cycle.
This rights deal was brokered by Relevent, a company that has previously attempted, without success, to organize regular LaLiga matches in the United States.
Ajax boss Edwin Van Der Sar, another member of the ECA board, also did not rule out the possibility of UEFA matches going abroad in the future.
The former Manchester United goalkeeper said: “You’re pretending it’s brand new or something that the games are played abroad.
“The Italian Super Cup and certain cup finals are also played in countries other than the home country itself. National confederations and national leagues already play abroad in certain finals.
“I’m not sure how far the idea from UEFA or ECA (has advanced), but of course it’s nothing new that certain matches are played abroad.”
Sources have told PA that all options to attract families and female fans to a new Super Cup will be considered, whether placing the matches in a weekend festival or having pop acts before matches or at half-time.
They point out that other sports have succeeded in taking games into new markets, such as the NFL, which plays regular season games in London.
Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali attended the AGM, with the ECA keen to hear from other sports and businesses about how they have generated new revenue streams.
As well as selling broadcasting rights, F1 also sells countries the right to host its events, which could be something the UEFA-ECA joint venture could look at with the Super Cup.
Al Khelaifi paid tribute to Domenicali in his address to the assembly, saying: “I remember the first time we met, I was inspired by your vision, your ideas and your project.
“You have made Formula 1 more than a sport. You have created a lifestyle and a brand. Entertainment is at the heart of everything you do. Formula 1 has a fantastic leader. I’m sure we’ll be inspired by what you’ll tell us later today.”
He added that ECA’s relationship with F1 was evidence that ECA was “open-minded and pushing forward ideas”.
He added: “We always have to be creative and think outside the box; to stand still goes backwards.”