United hoping to head to America
Published 04/02/2014 | 13:37
Manchester United will join Manchester City and Liverpool for a grand pre-season tournament in the United States, but David Moyes may have to pull his team out if they are forced to go through Europa League qualifying.
As part of the build-up to the 2014-15 season the three English teams, along with Inter Milan, AC Milan, Roma, Olympiacos and Real Madrid will take part in the International Champions Cup, it was announced on Tuesday.
The eight teams will be split into two leagues, with the winners of each group taking part in the final at the Sun Life Stadium - home of NFL franchise the Miami Dolphins - on August 4.
As the tournament begins on July 26, United's participation - and Liverpool's - could be in jeopardy, however.
"Teams required to qualify for 2014/15 European competition based on 2013/14 domestic league finishing position may be subject to change," read a statement on United's website.
Based on current form, United look unlikely to qualify for next year's Champions League.
The Red Devils, who have lost eight matches so far this term, sit seventh in the Barclays Premier League - some seven points off the top four.
As it stands, only the fifth-placed team in the Premier League qualifies for the Europa League, but that could all change in the coming months.
If Manchester City win the Capital One Cup next month, the sixth-placed team in the league will also qualify for the Europa League.
In addition to that, if the FA Cup winners finish in the top four, then the team that ends the year in seventh will also qualify for Europe's secondary competition.
Should that scenario occur and United finish seventh in the table, they will have to undergo two rounds of Europa League qualifying - the first of which is bang in the middle of the International Champions Cup - and they will have to pull out of the American tournament as a result.
The reigning Premier League champions hope that does not occur and their participation in the competition can go ahead as planned.
It is understood that United will take part in other pre-season matches, which will be announced in the coming months.
United have taken part in four pre-season tours of the US before, with their most recent trip across the Atlantic coming three years ago.
Managing director Richard Arnold said: "I'm delighted to announce that the team will be returning to the USA for our 2014 Tour, presented by Aon.
"Since the club's last visit in 2011, the appeal of football in America has grown rapidly.
"NBC reported that this season's Barclays Premier League opening weekend saw the average viewership rise by 78 per cent from the 2012/13 season, with Manchester United's match against Swansea being the most-watched game."
"Manchester United has over eight million followers in the United States and the 2014 Tour presents an exciting opportunity for these fans to get up close to the club they love."
Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Miami, Washington DC and another two cities will host the International Champions Cup matches.
Fixtures will be announced on February 20.
Real Madrid won last year's tournament, beating Chelsea 3-1 in the final in Miami.