Elite soccer clubs have realised they are ‘bigger together’ on money-spinning pre-season tours
July 28, 2017
Europe’s elite soccer clubs have realised they are “bigger together” on pre-season tours, according to Charlie Stillitano, who played a key role in the inception of the International Champions Cup.
The continent’s biggest teams have traditionally embarked on individual schedules during the close season, with fixtures between domestic rivals a rarity.
But clubs have changed tact in recent years, with low-key clashes increasingly making way for high-profile affairs in the likes of China and USA.
The International Champions Cup, which launched in 2013, is at the forefront of the movement, having brought together 15 of Europe’s top clubs to compete in three separate competitions across three countries this summer. The tournament is broadcast in 170 countries via 65 different broadcast deals.
93,098 tix purchased for the @ManCity @realmadrid match! Largest crowd to witness a soccer match in our 94-year history! #Recordbreaker pic.twitter.com/K9K5BVr8nC
— LA Memorial Coliseum (@lacoliseum) July 27, 2017
Clubs reportedly earned between £9million ($11.7million) and £15million ($19.6million) for their involvement in 2016 and Stillitano, chairman of Relevent Sports, is adamant an appetite for marquee matches has contributed to a collective shift in attitude.
“These clubs realise they are bigger together than they are separate,” he told the BBC.
“It comes down to trust and years and years of working. Early on they did not want to play against big teams. They certainly did not want to play against their big rivals. Over time that has changed.
“The bigger and better you are, the more exposure you have.”
Continental Heavyweights such as Manchester United and Barcelona can only face eachother in a competitive environment within the Champions League, Europa League or UEFA Super Cup.
Yet the commercial success of these pre-season fixtures highlights the scale of interest a potential Super League would be capable of generating.
The introduction of such an ambitious project may remain a distant prospect but Stillitano is open to the possibility of staging a truly global competition.
“What we have created is a great competitive product. If and when the authorities decide they want to open things up to a world league, we will be ready,” he added.