Premier League 39th game plan 'not unnoticed by clubs' American owners'

Manchester United in action against Manchester City at the NRG Stadium in Texas in July 2017
Premier League clubs Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham took part in the International Champions Cup tournament in the USA during pre-season

The man behind the International Champions Cup, the pre-season tournament featuring Europe's biggest clubs, says his promotions company wants to host Premier League matches in the United States.

Charlie Stillitano, executive chairman of Relevent Sports, says the success of exporting NFL games to England has not gone unnoticed by American owners of Premier League clubs.

However, plans to play a so-called '39th game' abroad have been shelved by Premier League chiefs.

Referring to the NFL, Stillitano told the BBC's World Football programme: "It seems like half the season is played in England.

"That's what NFL owners look at. And don't forget, you have a couple of NFL owners that own teams in your Premier League."

The Glazer family own Manchester United and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Arsenal's majority shareholder Stan Kroenke also owns the Los Angeles Rams.

"When they see NFL teams play [in England], they think maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea for our team to play somewhere else, to bring the gospel there," said Stillitano, speaking at the Soccerex Global Convention, the football finance event being held in Manchester.

And Stillitano says Relevent Sports is ready to take the Premier League to the United States.

"We have our hand up. We'd love to host these games - but it's up to the leagues and confederations."

In 2008, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore proposed the so-called '39th game' but said in July he said too many obstacles remain in the way of playing league matches outside England.

"The clubs would like to do it - but we're also realistic that until the fan reaction, the political reaction and the general media reaction is more warm towards it, it's not going to happen," he told journalists in Hong Kong.

"I think there would still be a desire to do a round of fixtures internationally, but there is no prospect of it happening any time soon."

The International Champions Cup - which this year featured Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris St-Germain, Juventus and Roma all playing three games each at 11 venues in the United States - has attracted large crowds.

In 2014, Michigan had a US soccer record crowd of 109,318 for the game between Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Stillitano says it has caught the attention of Stephen Ross, the billionaire owner of Relevent Sports and the Miami Dolphins.

"Our owner refers to the Glazers and Stan Kroenke as partners. The NFL mentality is one of true partnership. They've certainly talked among themselves about things like this happening. People get excited when they see the real thing live.

"Now, there are the league rules, there are regulations - so I could never speak for the Glazers or Stan Kroenke - I'm just saying, from our perspective, we would love to have regular season games."

Charlie Stillitano, chairman of Relevent Sport
Stillitano (right) has been a football fan since his childhood days in the 1960s

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