Premier League Games Being Played in the US Is Starting to Feel Inevitable

Liverpool's chair is very supportive of the idea

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool during a recent Liverpool/Tottenham Hotspur match.
Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

There’s nothing especially groundbreaking about a professional sports team engaging in international travel to burnish its reputation — or make some money. In 1934, a group of Major League Baseball all-stars toured Japan, for instance; more recently, the NFL has begun holding regular-season games in the U.K. and Germany. Recent comments made by Tom Werner, chair of Premier League team Liverpool F.C., suggest that we’re heading towards a move that could be game-changing in more ways than one.

ESPN reports that Werner would like to see a Liverpool match take place in New York. “I’m determined one day to have a Premier League game be played in New York City,” he told the Financial Times in a recent interview. If this does come to pass, it won’t be Liverpool’s first game there; they most recently played Portuguese side Sporting CP at Yankee Stadium in 2019. What Werner is talking about is a little different, though; this one would be a full-on regular season match.

Plenty of prominent European teams will head on the road before their regular seasons begin. It’s generally a good way to draw overseas supporters, to get the club back into the groove of playing and sometimes offers a way to see how younger and fringe players look. (Friendlies have no restrictions on the number of substitutions made.) The shift to playing competitive matches away from home had been banned, with a legal ruling recently removing those barriers.

The head of Spain’s La Liga, Javier Tebas, has said that he hopes to begin hosting some matches in the U.S. beginning in the 2025-26 season. The Premier League has been a little more cautious; that said, one NBC executive who spoke with The Athletic was very supportive of the idea. Similar mixed signals have come from within the Liverpool organization, with owner John Henry signaling to ESPN that a stateside Liverpool game wasn’t something that interested him.

Even so, if NBC — the source of a not insignificant part of the Premier League’s revenue — pushes for the “return of “39th game” concept, it could be difficult to resist. (Though it’s worth noting that a similar proposal over a decade ago failed.)

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There’s another worrisome aspect to this discussion: namely, how some of the world’s biggest soccer teams coming to the U.S. would affect domestic clubs. New York is already home to two MLS teams, with the second-division Brooklyn FC set to begin play next season. Would people still head out to an MLS or USL match if they had the prospect of watching Kylian Mbappé or Erling Haaland at their local stadium? We might get to watch the answer to that question play out in real time.

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