It's time to move the Community Shield to the United States - British fans are apathetic towards the competition but American fans would cherish watching their team lift a trophy

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The success of Premier League clubs' summer tours of America demonstrates just how popular a competitive game in the US could be.

A sold-out crowd of more than 82,000. Fans congregating hours before kick off, setting off flares and singing the same chants as in England. Fans travelling across the country and paying at least $100 for a ticket. A punch-up in the stands and then a furious on-pitch altercation between Lisandro Martinez and Gabriel Jesus. Manchester United's friendly against Arsenal showed how much appetite there is for English football in the United States.

However, it also showed the limitations of the spectacle currently on offer. The match began with the intensity and passion of a Premier League match as both teams fielded some of their best players. But in the second half, with each manager making 11 substitutes, the game began to resemble a friendly again. The fact that a penalty shootout took place after the full-time whistle despite United winning 2-0 served to underline the reality that this was not a serious event after all.

So just imagine how different things would be if a trophy was at stake, one with 115 years of history and tradition, and one that many people still see as a major honour. American fans would be even more excited and supporters in England and around the world would be tuning in too.

Imagine if the Community Shield took place in the United States every year.

  1. Exploding popularity of football in the US
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    Exploding popularity of football in the US

    Football is not so much booming as exploding in the US right now. The US is co-hosting the next World Cup along with Canada and Mexico, and Lionel Messi fever is further fuelling the growth of Major League Soccer. Indeed, last month Inter Miami were the subject of 8.2 million Google searches, far more than Manchester United.

    According to a poll by the Washington Post, eight per cent of Americans said football was their favourite sport, compared to 11 per cent who said baseball and 12 per cent who said basketball. Other studies state that football has already overtaken ice hockey in popularity.

    Interest in European football is massive too. The match between Arsenal and United set a record for a football match in the state of New Jersey. United's fixture with Real Madrid in Texas attracted 67,000 fans, while Arsenal's win over Barcelona was witnessed by 70,000. Huge attendances for European teams in the US is not a new phenomenon. In 2014, 109,000 people filled the 'Big House' in Michigan to see United play Madrid.

    But how long can US audiences be sated by friendly matches? A competitive game with a trophy on the line is the next logical step for European football in the US.

  2. 'We would die to have a competitive game'

    'We would die to have a competitive game'

    "I can say unequivocally, we would die to have a real competitive game anywhere in America," Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey and one of the organisers of the 2026 World Cup, said last month. "If it was in New York/New Jersey, you wouldn’t get near that game. It would be overwhelming. To have a Champions League game, you wouldn’t be able to get near it."

    There has been interest in holding Premier League matches in the US ever since then CEO Richard Scudamore floated the idea in 2008 with the concept of a '39th game' being held abroad. But the plan provoked a huge backlash among English fans and led to questions about distorting the competition. La Liga's plans to take matches to Miami, announced in 2018, also failed to get off the ground for the same reason.

    Murphy's dream of Champions League matches being held in the States is also unlikely to be realised due to the magnitude of Europe's top competition. The Community Shield, however, is the least controversial way to make it happen.

  3. Spain and Italy have already done it

    Spain and Italy have already done it

    Spain and Italy have already taken their equivalent competitions abroad. Italy was the first to do so, playing the Supercoppa Italiana in Washington, DC as early as 1993. The competition has since been held in Libya, New Jersey, China, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

    And earlier this year the Italian football association struck a deal worth approximately €23 million (£20m/$24m) per season to host an expanded Supercoppa in Saudi Arabia until 2028.

    The Spanish football federation, encouraged by Gerard Pique, struck its own deal to host the revamped tournament in Saudi Arabia from 2020, earning a reported 40 million (£34m/$44m) per year.

    Although the move provoked criticism from the likes of Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid and Valencia, the refreshed tournament has been a great success both on a commercial and entertainment level.

    And teams are still taking it deadly seriously. Barcelona sacked coach Ernesto Valverde days after his side were knocked out by Atletico in the semi-finals in 2020. The last two finals, both between Real and Barca, have been thrilling matches watched by sell-out crowds.

  4. No political controversy - unlike with Saudi

    No political controversy - unlike with Saudi

    Both federations did face criticism for their deals due to Saudi Arabia's repressive record on human rights and homosexuality, however. And given the outrage that has followed Jordan Henderson's move to Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq, the English Football Association (FA) is unlikely to follow suit and send the Community Shield to the Gulf state.

    There would be no political risk in taking the competition to the US, however. And even if the financial rewards would not as be as much as by cutting a deal with Saudi, the FA could still get a significant windfall from the move.

    At the moment the match only generates ticket and programme sales for the FA, which it redistributes to community initiatives and charities. And there is no reason why the competition could not remain a force for good if played abroad. Indeed, the charities would stand to receive far larger amounts of money.

  5. Dwindling attendances and declining interest
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    Dwindling attendances and declining interest

    If the matches involving European teams played in the States this summer are anything to go by, there would be huge demand for tickets for a Community Shield match in America. And that would be a big boost for a competition which has been suffering due to a lack of interest for some time.

    Sunday's match between Manchester City and Arsenal has sold out, but many City season ticket holders will not be attending after a fan group decided to boycott the match after criticising the kick off time, which meant many supporters from Manchester would struggle to get home afterwards.

    This year's edition is set to be the best attended Community Shield since Arsenal faced Chelsea in 2017. Since then, and until this year, the match had not sold out. Only 45,000 people turned out for the 2021 match between City and Leicester, while last year the game was played at the King Power Stadium, which holds only 32,000, as Wembley was being used for the Women's European Championship final.

    It says a lot about the competition's declining popularity that a larger venue such as Old Trafford or the Principality Stadium was not chosen instead.

  6. Big clubs already support the idea

    Big clubs already support the idea

    While the FA would expect some criticism from English supporters for shipping the Community Shield abroad, many clubs would be in favour of it.

    Rebranding the competition and sending it abroad was one of the options raised in the Premier League’s 'New Deal for Football' plan, which was discussed last year and covers the post-2024 football calendar.

    According to a report in The Times, some of the big clubs believe the Community Shield can disrupt their preparations for the coming season as well as interrupt their money-spinning tours. With many clubs touring the US anyway during the summer, it would make perfect sense to finish up with the Community Shield.

    And playing the match in the States is certainly better than some of the other ideas mentioned in the 'New Deal for Football', which included an All-Star match, something Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly has proposed.

    A quick look at this summer's events tells you everything you need to know about that idea. When Arsenal played against an MLS All-Star XI in July, the Gunners romped to a 5-0 win and only 20,000 people turned out.

    Now contrast that with Arsenal's game with United, which was fiercely competitive (at least until the second half) and watched by 82,000 people. Arsenal have huge support in the States and so do City, whose own franchise New York City play in the MLS. If Sunday's Community Shield were being played in the Met Life Stadium, it would surely be a sell out and a huge event for local fans.

    It is surely only a matter of time before the FA decides to take the next step and bring its historic yet fading competition to America to give it the reboot it needs.