Irish-American Businessman Looking to Strengthen Links with Ireland

The International Challenge Cup pre-season football tournament should reach “breakeven or better” this year, six years on from its launch, its co-founder, Irish-American businessman Matt Higgins, has told The Irish Times.

The competition is contested by the world’s largest clubs across a number of different countries in the off-season. This year’s was the biggest yet with 27 matches played, attracting a million spectators.

This included the game between Arsenal and Chelsea last week at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, which finished 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes and drew a crowd of more than 46,000. This was the third year in a row that Dublin hosted a game as part of the ICC event.

“The Aviva is a great venue,” Mr Higgins said. “The pitch is fantastic, the [stadium] management are very good to work with and the fans turn out. I’m always looking at ways to strengthen my ancestral links.”

He is now planning to launch an ICC futures tournament for the youth squads of the world’s biggest clubs. Mr Higgins said the tournament’s turnover amounts to “hundreds of millions of dollars”, from a combination of sponsorship, broadcasting rights and match-day revenue.

Mr. Higgins is also chief executive of RSE Ventures, which earlier this year acquired New York City-based cyber security group Skout, which was founded by Irishman Aidan Kehoe.

Mr. Higgins said Ireland would be Skout’s launchpad into Europe. “Ireland is an amazing place to do business,” he said. “It’s located in the right spot, the IDA are extremely helpful and there’s a talented workforce.”

RSE is also involved in a number of food and lifestyle ventures. “I would love to have the opportunity to bring some of those concepts to Ireland. There’s no reason why I wouldn’t bring them to Ireland.”

The New York entrepreneur, who is also vice-chairman of the Miami Dolphins American football team, was recently added to the judging panel of US reality television show Shark Tank, an American version of Dragons’ Den. The show will air in October.