A historic deal to take Dundee’s home match with Celtic to the United States next season is almost done, the Tele can exclusively reveal.
Negotiations to stage the Dark Blues’ 2016/17 clash with the Old Firm giants on foreign soil are said to be 85% complete.
Sources close to the deal have confirmed the stadium has been booked, date set, travel plans put in place, tax implications ironed out and contracts drawn up by legal parties from across the pond, Parkhead and Dens Park.
A split of the match revenue and merchandising has been agreed, with Dundee, the drivers of this project, set to land a significant sum, much higher than if the game were to take place, as previously scheduled, at Dens.
A US travel company has also been employed to set up packages for fans, from both teams, to travel and support their club.
Despite considering staging the ground-breaking encounter for world football at a number of venues across the Eastern seaboard, including Chicago, New York, Boston, Seattle and Portland, as well as the likes of Dallas, Texas, and St Louis, Missouri, the location for the match, barring any last-minute hitches, is set to be Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The 69,000 capacity Lincoln Financial Field, home of the National Football League’s Philadelphia Eagles, will be converted to house the clash between Brendan Rodgers and Paul Hartley’s men.
And the date, although not yet revealed, will fall just before the Scottish Premiership split, thought to be around the end of March, beginning of April.
It’s understood Dundee would travel over the States, along with the Hoops squad, a week prior to the match to acclimatise and also take part in promotion events in the city.
One of the major barriers placed in front of any staging of the game outside of Scotland has been the idea that Fifa and Uefa would need to give this the green light.
An insider on negotiations has told the Tele that this is not the case.
They state Fifa place the sanctioning of this decision firmly on the table of Uefa and CONCACAF — the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football.
Uefa are said to have deferred that to the national governing body – the SFA – and it must also be signed off by the league – SPFL.
It is believed they have both given this the OK, leaving just agreement to be reached with the MLS and also CONCACAF.
Talks with the MLS are said to have gone well, and it is understood the match has already been pencilled in to coincide with a weekend free of US matches, therefore not affecting their own TV audience and gate revenues.
The weekend in question has also been selected as it is said not to clash with any other major sporting event from the basketball, ice hockey and American football world, in order to give the game total exposure in the American market.
Of course, given the unprecedented nature of this match, it is not known whether Fifa would deem this a “unique” case and reserve the right to block it, as they did with the English Premier League’s plans for a 39th game in 2008.
The difference back then, though, was that these games were set to be staged at a number of different venues across the globe with huge time differences. The plan also didn’t have the backing of then FA chairman Geoff Thompson.
A decision on the match is expected in the coming weeks, with a conclusion to negotiations imperative prior to release of the top-flight fixtures by the SPFL on June 17.