Champions League sponsor would favour earlier kick-off for final
22 May 2012
UEFA Champions League partner MasterCard has said it would prefer an earlier kick-off time for the final of European football’s showpiece competition in order to capitalise on the game’s global audience.
Barclays Premier League outfit Chelsea enjoyed its first success in the tournament by beating Bayern Munchen on penalties in the German giants’ own Allianz Arena on Saturday evening. UEFA claims the final benefits from a global television audience of 150 million, eclipsing figures for the Super Bowl to make it the world’s most-watched annual sporting event. However, Hany Fam – president of purchase at MasterCard’s strategic partnership division for Europe – told Bloomberg that he plans to raise the proposal of bringing the match forward with an eye towards football’s burgeoning Asian market.
He said: “We are always working with each other to maximise the benefit and to maximise the impact of this program. So really there’s very little that’s off the table in terms of how we engage and what we engage around. Maybe (this could mean an earlier start).”
The Champions League final was moved from a Wednesday evening to a Saturday evening event two years ago – an arrangement that has won favour with many fans in Europe. With this in mind, David Taylor, chief executive of UEFA Events, remains unconvinced of Fam’s point of view. He said: “I don’t think we would be organising European football specifically for an Asian audience. It’s European football first and foremost.”