It doesn’t seem that Manchester United will be rushing back to the United States for preseason friendlies anytime soon. Man United Chief Executive David Gill is quoted in The Guardian newspaper as saying that Asia and Africa, instead of America, will be the focus to globalize their brand.
I wonder, though, if Gill would have still said the same thing if Chelsea wasn’t playing their preseason friendlies in the United States. It seems to me that Gill’s comments may be more of a war of words than a policy from Man United. Albeit, Gill’s statement doesn’t hold out much hope for the Red Devils returning to the States in the next couple of summers which is unfortunate because the EPL (and the team) is flourishing in the U.S.
Will the fanbase in the States ever reach the point where hordes of fans will welcome Man United (or any other EPL team) such as in Asia? Never. Not even the introduction of David Beckham could create that type of hysteria. It’s not in the U.S.’s culture to stand enmasse.
The real reason for United focusing on Asia and Africa instead of America is money. I’ve written about the growth of the Premier League in both of those continents on the EPL Talk Blog before. The concern for fans of Premier League clubs, though, is whether more sides will avoid the U.S. in future summers and play in Asia as the following clubs are doing this summer: Man United, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Fulham, Bolton and Reading.
While the U.S. won’t be able to match the hysteria around the matches, what it does offer is a loyal fan base who would fill the seats in the stadiums and buy the merchandise. What it can’t match is the sheer size of the Asian market and the potential for Premier League clubs to sell massive amounts of shirts resulting in the building of a loyal fan base who will continue to buy merchandise for years to come.
Unfortunately for fans of Premier League clubs in America, it’s a no-win situation when competing against the Asian market. David Gill’s comments paint a disappointing outlook for EPL hungry fans in the United States. Let’s see how many Premier League clubs come to the States next summer.