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Is football making a break through in the US?


It's a question which has been asked many times before and usually gets a positive but over optimistic answer.   However, the attendance of 109,318 for last night's game between Manchester United and Real Madrid was the biggest ever recorded in the US for a soccer game and was impressive by any standards. Apparently, the fact that the crowd sat on benches helped to cram them in.

Television audiences for Premier League games were 116 million in 2013-14, a rise of 114 per cent on the previous season.  Against that, they are not shown in prime time in the way that NFL games are.

What is really going on here is a battle between the Premier League and La Liga and clubs such as Manchester United and Real Madrid for access to the enormous commercial and other money making opportunities in the huge American market.

The 39th game idea - a Premier League match played outside the UK - is being revived again, although that could be played in the Middle East or Asia as well as the US.   It has never been popular with fans and new United manager Louis van Gaal has complained that the travel rigours of the US tour and the resultant jet lag are not a good preparation for the new season.