Talks are underway between representatives of the Premier League and Major League Soccer over a possible annual Anglo-American tournament being set up.
That’s according to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who revealed the two divisions are looking at hosting a summer tournament that could involve the winners of the English title and the FA Cup going up against the best sides in the United States, per Sky Sports:
We have been talking to the Premier League about doing some sort of official competition - as opposed to just having clubs come over to the country on a random basis - playing in a tournament that takes place every summer.
I would love to find a way that we could play our cup champion and our league champion against an FA Cup and league champion in a tournament and play it in New York City every year. If not every year, then every four years.
According to Garber, MLS is keen to eventually be considered alongside the biggest leagues in the world but will not be adopting English football's system of promotion and relegation, per Eoin Connolly of SportsPro magazine:
The bonds between English and American football are certainly strengthening. Since former Three Lions captain David Beckham joined LA Galaxy in 2007, fans of the Premier League have taken a more vested interest in MLS. It's something that has been amplified by players like Robbie Keane, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard's arrivals in recent years.
While positive strides have been made in that sense, Philly.com's Jonathan Tannenwald thinks Garber should be focusing on other areas in order for MLS to progress:
With MLS being broadcast live on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom, its global appeal is on the rise. And the anarchic nature of the games has certainly attracted a lot of supporters who are becoming a little disillusioned with the increasingly predictable, mechanistic Premier League. The link with Sky is something Garber himself recently heralded as a catalyst for MLS' progress:
There are some potential problems that a tournament like this might give rise to, though. After all, schedules of MLS and Premier League teams are already jam-packed, so managers of the top sides in both divisions may not be too keen on another set of what would surely become competitive affairs.
Men in Blazers thinks the tournament is a brilliant idea and would welcome other divisions from across the world getting involved:
If there is a demand for this kind of competition from supporters, it’ll surely be set up. As we can see here, courtesy of Sky Sports News HQ, there has been a major surge in soccer’s popularity in the United States:
The growth of MLS is hugely encouraging—not only in terms of the stellar names currently turning out for teams on a weekly basis, but also because of the manner in which the infrastructure of the sport is being invested in on the back of these lucrative gains. We’re also beginning to see younger players emerge who are ready to play at a high level.
Any tournament that can continue to raise the profile of the division and give the participating players a chance to test themselves against the very best would be a major boost for MLS. But convincing Premier League teams to participate in the off-season on an annual basis, thus potentially alienating fanbases and lucrative opportunities in Asia and Australasia, will be tough.