EPL Friendlies Shift from North America to Asia
Have all of the major Premier League clubs passed on the opportunity of doing preseason tours in the United States during the summer of 2008?
While Chelsea, Aston Villa and Everton conducted U.S. preseason friendlies in 2007, clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Fulham, Bolton, Portsmouth and Reading toured Asia. This summer Man United and Liverpool, especially, have played in front of massive crowds and have gone a long way to expanding their brand (and selling more lucrative merchandise) within that continent.
Chelsea, meanwhile, has announced that it’ll be heading to China in the summer of 2008 and will return to New York in 2009 and Chicago in 2011.
If Chelsea doesn’t head stateside in 2008, which Premier League clubs will? Based on the explosion in popularity of the Premier League in Asia and the amount of money the clubs must be making from merchandise, I predict we’ll see fewer clubs visiting America in the coming years.
The other thing to take into consideration is that Euro 2008 will be played next summer, which means that the gap of time Premier League clubs will have to take full-strength teams and prepare them for the new season will be reduced.
And in 2009, I wonder how many Premier League clubs will tour South Africa (as Spurs did this summer and Man United did last summer) to create publicity before the 2010 World Cup.
The best bet for America may be for organizers to lure English teams to a tournament in the States. Entice clubs such as Newcastle United, Reading, Sunderland and Aston Villa to play against Major League Soccer teams over a period of one week in California, Texas, Illinois or New York. Question is, would all the matches sell out?