Following Arsenal’s 3-0 Community Shield win over Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, the English Football Association’s general secretary, Alex Horne, has admitted the showpiece event may head overseas in the future.
Over 70,000 fans were at Wembley to watch the Gunners lift the shield in the season opener which pits the FA Cup holders against the Premier League winners.
[RELATED: Arsenal win 13th shield]
Now the FA, for the first time, have admitted they may follow the lead of other top-flights in European soccer and look at staging the game abroad from 2018 onwards. Imagine Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool or any other PL side battling it out for the Community Shield in New York, Boston, Washington D.C. or elsewhere in the U.S.
According to the Associated Press, Horne is contemplating just that.
“It’s an interesting idea and we’ve seen the NFL do something similar with their games coming to Wembley,” Horne said. “The NBA are doing it and we know that Spanish football and Italian football are looking at doing that with their own Supercup-type games. So, it’s an interesting opportunity. But, as I say, right now, we’ve got a contract with Wembley [until 2018], and the fans and the players enjoy playing at Wembley.”
This season the French Super Cup was played in Beijing as Paris-St-Germain beat Lorient. Now, could the English FA host their curtain raiser in the USA from 2018? With no fewer than nine PL teams heading to the U.S. for their preseason tours this summer, playing in front of packed stadiums and a real buzz created Stateside, playing an actual game that matters is the next step. Also, the fact that Horne specifically mentions what the NBA and NFL have done by bringing games to London shows he has the American sports realm on his brain when talking about potentially shifting the shield abroad.
Okay, there are those who believe the Community Shield is nothing but a glorified friendly but it would be a first step to having the “39th game” of the PL season hosted in the USA or elsewhere abroad. For many years the FA and Premier League have flirted with the idea of a money-making 39th game abroad and hosting the Community Shield on American soil could be a dry-run for what to expect. The financial aspect of packing out a huge NFL or College Football stadium with up to, or over, 100,000 fans, that must be enticing for the FA. Manchester United vs. Real Madrid at Michigan Stadium proved that is possible as over 109,000 packed into the Big House earlier this month.
The Middle East, Dubai or Qatar, and possibly Australia or Indonesia could also be seen as potential overseas locations to host the Community Shield but surely the U.S. is the frontrunner if the game was to be played outside of the UK for the first time in history.
Stranger things have happened.