Old Traf­ford chief has say on new club World Cup

Manchester Evening News - - UNITED SPECIAL - By SA­MUEL LUCK­HURST sa­muel.luck­hurst@men-news.co.uk @samuel­luck­hurst

UNITED ex­ec­u­tive vice-chair­man Ed Wood­ward com­mented on the proposed Club World Cup re­vamp dur­ing the club’s quar­terly con­fer­ence call.

Re­ports on Wed­nes­day claimed United were one of 12 Euro­pean teams due to be in­vited to play in a new 24-team Club World Cup. Fifa is sup­pos­edly ea­ger to ex­pand the cur­rent com­pe­ti­tion, stag­ing it ev­ery four years, with the first be­ing held in June 2021.

It would re­place the cur­rent low-key ver­sion of the tour­na­ment – which United won in Ja­pan in 2008 – and in­vi­ta­tions would be ex­tended to the Euro­pean teams that have won the Euro­pean Cup three times. The 24 par­tic­i­pat­ing clubs would share a prize fund of about £1.5bn, with the win­ner earn­ing as much as £100m and a guar­an­teed min­i­mum £50m just for tak­ing part. A con­sor­tium of back­ers from Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates and Ja­pan are said to have pledged the cash.

Wood­ward ac­knowl­edged the re­cent spec­u­la­tion over the Club World Cup and re­ferred to the op­por­tu­nity live broad­cast­ing pro­vides.

“Many of you will have seen re­ports of a 25bn of­fer to Fifa, 12bn of which is for four cy­cles of a re­vamped Club World Cup tour­na­ment be­tween 2021 and 2033,” Wood­ward said in the ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion. “The mer­its and de­tails are cur­rently be­ing con­sid­ered by Fifa and other stake­hold­ers and I don’t in­tend to go into them here.

“How­ever, it high­lights a few relevant points. It sup­ports the view that on de­mand plat­forms will be the fu­ture of con­tent con­sump­tion. Live com­pelling con­tent will be a key bat­tle­ground, the in­flu­ences of which are suc­cess­ful. Con­tent gen­er­a­tors are uniquely placed to be the ben­e­fi­ci­aires. We con­tinue to be­lieve live stream­ing con­tent will be­come in­creas­ingly more valu­able in the fu­ture.”

On Premier League tele­vi­sion rights, Wood­ward com­mented: “Five of the seven rights deals have been sold to Sky and BT and the fi­nal two pack­ages to­gether with the Ire­land rights are be­ing sold now by the Premier League. We ex­pect an up­date from the AGM (an­nual gen­eral meet­ing) in June, we ex­pect a small reduction over­all, but no cur­rent up­date on that.”

Dur­ing the in­vestors’ call, Wood­ward added: “If I can an­swer very sim­ply and can­didly, play­ing per­for­mance doesn’t re­ally have a mean­ing­ful im­pact on what we can do on the com­mer­cial side of the busi­ness.

“As an­other sea­son nears its close, we have achieved our high­est num­ber of points and fin­ish since 2012-13 and we look for­ward to an­other trip to Wem­b­ley. We an­tic­i­pate an­other suc­cess­ful sum­mer tour in the United States in prepa­ra­tion for the 2018-19 sea­son.”

Ed Wood­ward

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