Overseas Premier League Games are Genius


The Premier League is a worldwide property worth billions of dollars. It has a huge market share in the United States and other nations outside of the United Kingdom. It doesn’t need to play regular season matches abroad to make more money or drive foreign interest. It’s still something they should clearly do.

Yahoo Sports columnist Leander Schaerlaeckens recently wrote a column arguing the Premier League shouldn’t play regular season matches overseas because US interest is already too high and the league is already super profitable. It’s this kind of thinking that gets businesses overtaken. No professional sports league can afford to rest on its laurels. There’s no such thing as a league that is already profitable enough or has enough market share.

Schaerlaeckens would have you believe that the Premier League is already popular enough in the United States. That’s nonsense. As a writer who spends a lot of time in the US, let me tell you that the EPL is still an afterthought in the states. It trails the NFL, NBA and even MLB in the eyes of most fans. That leaves a huge amount of market share open for the EPL in terms of US fans.

Today, the majority of US fans who follow the EPL have never been to a match. Their matchday experience consists of waking up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, watching the match on NBC at home or perhaps with like-minded fans at a local pub. Imagine how the interest of potential fans would be ignited by being able to attend a match in their own back yard. It could cause EPL interest in the US to explode.

Admittedly, there would be significant backlash from the British media if a regular season game was moved to the US. There’s already a palpable feeling among British EPL fans that the game’s purity is being diluted by overseas interest. There was some chatter against the NFL playing games in London too. No how much we hear a few years after the idea has been implemented? Zero.

The NFL blazed a trail in England not by taking the Steelers and Patriots to play. Instead, they send less popular franchises to London. This lessens the backlash from one franchise’s fans over losing a home game. Don’t send Manchester United or Manchester City to play in the first several seasons. Let Burnley and Norwich blaze the trail instead.

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It would be a huge win for the smaller clubs in the Premier League. A club like Burnley should be falling all over themselves to try to garner fans in the US. They’ll never be able to carve out a big following in London where fans have followed their clubs for generations. Convincing a fan in San Francisco who’s never had an interest in the EPL to support Burnley because they play a regular season match there is a much more feasible opportunity.

Perhaps there’s even a way to bring meaningful games to the United States without taking regular season matches away from England. Perhaps the Community Shield match could be played abroad? Maybe there could even be the creation of a new tournament that could be played in a compressed time frame overseas. It would be child’s play to find a sponsor and a lucrative TV deal for such a competition. As long as there were assurances that EPL teams would field their first team squads it would print money for the clubs involved.

The English Premier League has a huge market share in the US already, but it’s nowhere near where it could be. Playing meaningful games in the United States is the next logical step in the EPL marketing strategy abroad. It’s the right marketing strategy and it’s inevitable.