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SBD Global/June 17, 2013/International Football

Rupert Murdoch Plans Summer Football League For Europe's Top Teams

Rupert Murdoch's global broadcasting company "is exploring an ambitious plan to create a summer football competition featuring Europe's top clubs, including English Premier League sides," with matches to be played in cities from L.A. to Shanghai, according to Sweney & Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Leading clubs such as ManU and Chelsea "would be invited to participate," competing with the biggest clubs from Europe's other top leagues. The idea "would see a 16-team competition run for 10 years with a potential start date of 2015 in the close season when clubs traditionally play exhibition matches." Matches "would be aired on Sky and by Murdoch's other broadcasters worldwide." Murdoch's 21st Century Fox company "also owns broadcasters" in Italy, Germany, Asia and the U.S. One source described the plan as akin to the "Formula One-isation of football," with cities from Europe, Asia and the Americas "bidding to host tournament matches." Approaches have been made to a number of cities by execs from Murdoch subsidiary Fox Int'l "to explore partnerships to host the exhibition-style tournament matches." But the proposal "is at its early stages." A second source said, "One of the major issues is if it gets to the stage of trying to pull the empire together and paying what they think is a fair share." With more than half of the clubs in the EPL in the hands of overseas owners, and five of those now owned by Americans including ManU, Arsenal and Liverpool, "the desire to go global has increased." News Corp. and BSkyB "declined to comment" (GUARDIAN, 6/14).

DIFFICULT HISTORY: In London, Josie Ensor reported "the idea to start a European super league has previously been attempted with little success." Murdoch "has a history of trying to create new competitions in various sports." In the '90s, News Corp. "created its own rugby super league in Australia forcing the sport’s international governing body to partner to create the National Rugby League competition." In '11, Murdoch’s media group "made an unsuccessful attempt to take control of Formula One" (TELEGRAPH, 6/15).
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