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Wenger Needs to Let Arsenal Plan U.S. Preseason Tour

usa arsenal Wenger Needs to Let Arsenal Plan U.S. Preseason Tour

Most of us would agree that it appears very likely that Stan Kroenke may be the new owner of Arsenal Football Club in the near future. The American billionaire has been slowly purchasing shares for more than a year now and is on the verge of having the magic 30 per cent number that will require him to make a formal takeover bid.

Whether Kroenke becomes the new owner sooner or later, it would behoove Arsene Wenger to begin developing a close and amicable relationship with Kroenke especially if the American will soon be his boss. But Wenger is already throwing his toys out of the pram over the sensitive topic of Arsenal Football Club and the desire of Kroenke and Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis to send the team on a lucrative preseason tour to the United States next summer.

Wenger is not a fan of having his routine broken. Each summer he takes his team to Austria for preseason training and then often plays in a couple of tournaments typically in Holland and London. He’s been doing this for several years and doesn’t fly his team halfway across the world. Chelsea typically tour the United States or Asia. Manchester United typically travel to Asia and Africa. Liverpool often travel to the Far East, while many other Premier League clubs also go overseas.

When Wenger was asked about a possible US tour next summer, he replied:

“No – it doesn’t prepare the players properly, it’s not possible to take players who are just back from World Cups or European Championships, and the Champions League qualifiers might be vital to the season.”

It’s a logical answer from a smart man, but the reality is that the other top Premier League clubs will be sending their teams on lucrative preseason tours around the world, so it’s not as if Arsenal would be disadvantaged. And if Arsenal finish in the top two, they don’t need to play Champions League qualifying games. How about that for an incentive to do well this season, Mr. Wenger?

Plus the United States is not on the other side of the world. Arsenal has flown to Moscow before to play in the Champions League against CSKA Moscow. A non-stop flight from London to Moscow is approximately four hours. A non-stop flight from London to New York is eight hours.

During Barcelona’s 12-day tour of the United States this past summer, the Spanish club generated $8.5 million. Sorry Arsenal fans, but Arsene Wenger would be a fool to pass up on this kind of money especially during a time where that money could help pay for a new striker or defensive midfielder.

Money aside, Arsenal’s tour of the United States would go a long way to help develop the brand of the club in the United States where the club has a huge following, which would only be made bigger by the club playing a few games Stateside. Plus, even after a World Cup, the club would still have plenty of time to play a 12-day tour in the United States before the 2010-2011 Premier League season begins on August 14.

Photo credit: Arsenal Station.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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29 Responses to Wenger Needs to Let Arsenal Plan U.S. Preseason Tour

  1. Mark says:

    Wenger is not ‘throwing his toys out the pram’ as you so aptly put it. This is a manager that knows what is best for the players he manages. He has proven over the past 13 years, that he gets the best out of the players. Stan Kronke is not the owner of Arsenal as it stands today. At some point, that may change. However, I would advise him not to interfere in team affairs. That would be a mistake and will get the fans backs up against him. There may come a time when Arsenal football club tour the US, but the pre season tour of Austria is good enough preparation for the club.

  2. dvs says:

    why should Arsenal go to yank-land?

    we have nothing to do there. Kroenke is a wanker like you and should stick his money up his f**king arse and die painfully. or just stick to his f**king american “sports” like “soccer”. c**t

    • Gunner JD says:

      @dvs:

      With all due respect, there is no reason to respond like a child to this idea.

      Yes, I’m a yank, and yes I understand that to you, me and my fellow American Arsenal fans and our billionaire owner should keep our grubby hands out of your country and not risk staining the purity of English football.

      But it’s possible you don’t know what the hell you are talking about with regards to Kroenke.

      You don’t have to believe this, and I don’t care, but I love Arsenal. I have for a couple years now. And I’m a f**king wanker Yank, in your eyes most likely, but I know and respect them, and will as long as I live. Deal with it. There are Americans who know and love ‘football’ as much as you, believe it or not.

      I also love my Colorado Avalanche, who Kroenke owns as well. He has presided over the dozen or so years they have been in Denver, and has seen them win 2 Stanley Cups. He also owns the Denver Nuggets, an NBA franchise that has crawled a long way back from being very mediocre to become one of the most respected and powerful teams in the league. He has presided over both of these teams successes.

      By all accounts he is one of the best owners in American “sports,” and is well respected over here, even if he is a bit private about the way in which he manages his properties. He’s no wanker, and I’m simply asking that instead of being an idiot, you stop and give it some thought first. I’m just trying to give some perspective on Kroenke, since he is right in my backyard, and he operates 2 professional sports organizations here in my city, and does so very well.

      I am actually excited about the prospect of what he may bring to Arsenal Football Club. He has shown he is not afraid of spending money to improve his teams. We here in Denver have seen ample evidence of this time and again. His financial backing could have a VERY REAL impact on the future of the Gunners, and I believe it could very well be a positive one.

      But then again, I’m just a yank…

    • Erich says:

      Completely classless comment from someone who has obviously not researched Kroenke. Stay classy, dvs.

    • ovalball says:

      Did you have a point, dvs? See *Mark* for how it’s done.

      Merry Christmas to everyone at epltalk and all its readers. :-)

  3. ruffneckc says:

    Well put Gunner JD. I live in NY and would love the chance to see Arsenal play in the flesh. Man Utd, Chelsea and Barca have all toured different continents in pre-season and still won championships! Arsenal wants are a big club like them so why can’t we do it?

  4. Grant says:

    I must say, as an Arsenal supporter, and an American one at that, I’ve been disappointed by the fact that Arsenal have never come to the U.S. I don’t have the money to fly to London to see the team play, but I support the club as much as anyone else. I give the club my financial support by buying shirts and other merchandise, and so I would like the opportunity to see them play in person here in the U.S.

    Furthermore, Chelsea has been making regular trips to the U.S. for the last few years, and Arsenal haven’t finished above Chelsea in the league in 5 years. Chelsea has won a good half dozen major trophies, too. It’s quite simply ridiculous for Mssr. Wenger to argue that coming to the U.S. would be a detriment to Arsenal’s preperations for the next season. Hell, Chelsea also have a bunch of players who will have played in the World Cup or the Africa Cup of Nations (and a few who will have played in both) in the last six months when they make the trip this year.

  5. Darren says:

    I am quite ok with them going to Austria to prepare. Seems pragmatic. And Mark, do you really think Kroenke and/or the rest of the board actually care what we think? If they had, there would have been alot more money spent at the club, and alot more pressure on Wenger. If Kroenke (or Usmanov, ugh) become owners, they will care even less. You see it in every sport, owners care very little about the fans. As long as they pay the money to support the club, that is how it is.

  6. Jon says:

    I think it is important on this issue to differentiate somewhat between the financial success of the club and the on-field success of the club. I recognize that, at some indeterminate point, those two goals are tied together. Poor clubs do not have the resources to buy and pay top quality players, and they tend to suffer on the field as a result. But equally, at some point there is a law of diminishing returns where continued financial success simply becomes profit for a club (at some point, money will have bought all the players the club needs and more money put in will not necessarily equate to better results on the field, certainly not on the value-per-pound basis – i.e. Portsmouth can do more with 40 million more pounds than Real Madrid can).

    That said, I think the “dispute”, such as it is, between Kroenke’s desire to see Arsenal tour the United States and Wenger’s to see the club maintain is regular Austrian tradition is at the intersection of these two goals. A tour of America makes the most financial sense. It’s the primary argument The Gaffer gave in his article – the value of the millions received in tour money and then the growth of the club brand from exposure to a new and very rich market where there are real gains to be had in merchandise and television revenue. There is absolutely no doubt that Arsenal will make more money, in the short and the long term, by exposure to the broader American market than to small towns in the Austrian foothills.

    At the same time, I take Wenger’s justification that such a tour is not as productive for the players. In that regard, I am inclined to cede to Wenger’s expertise, given his micro-level involvement with his players, his vast experience with preparing them, and his history of incredible success with his teams. If Wenger is of the belief that the flights, time committment, media exposure, exposure of young players (remember, most of the squad is under 25) to major American cities and their attractions (or destractions), and the quality of the opposition is not sufficient to prepare his charges, then I would conclude he’s probably right.

    The ultimate question for me, then, to decide on whether I think an American tour is a good or bad idea is whether I think the Club is past the point of diminishing returns I described above where the financial gains would have a significant enough return to outweigh the loss in preparation. My own view is that Arsenal are financially very healthy. They are managed by a Board rather than a sole owner (for now). They have very good revenue streams from matchday intake and other income generated by the Emirates, which was a very wise investment. They easily service the debt they are under with a long term amortization plan than is not dependent on results (ie, the Club does not NEED the Champions League money to remain solvent). They have done very well in player transfers, both in recent times and over the long term. In terms of exposure, they are a recognized top level club with strong marketing all over the globe.

    My guess based on that is that the gains to be had by a trip to America are not worth it compared to the potential issues with team preparation, so I am in Wenger’s camp on this one, for now. I would re-assess if I thought there was evidence that Arsenal were not past the point where the money would do more for the club than the preparation.

    And, just so you know, it is not like I don’t have a personal stake either. I have been an Arsenal fan for coming up on 20 years, and I live in Canada. I buy a lot of their merchandise every year from the club and I fly to England once a year to watch a match. It would be much much easier for me to catch them in the United States in pre-season if they came. But my personal feeling aside, I’m with Wenger. For now.

    Cheers,

    Jon

  7. I like arsenal its my tim

  8. Conor says:

    I say this as an American Arsenal Supporter: Don’t go against Arsene Wenger! He’s is more important then a trip to the US.

  9. Efrain says:

    Agree with Grant. Chelsea has toured the US and the club does better than Arsenal. Arsenals preseason routine keeps them in top 4 but not in 1st. Maybe shaking things up and playing over here a bit like Chelsea and Barca would do them good. I am a huge Arsenal Supporter and would love to see them visit. A few games along the east coast would rock!!

  10. Perry says:

    Gunner JD: Great post, but you forgot a third team Kroenke owns and operates here in Colorado: the Rapids of MLS. Unfortunately they haven’t been quite as successful as the Avalanche or the Nuggets, not that that’s necessarily Kroenke’s fault or would portend anything about how he might do with Arsenal, who I also love.

  11. dwf says:

    As an American, I take a dim view of any Arsenal pre-season American tour. There is no good reason to travel such a distance and risk injury in a country that doesn’t much care about ‘soccer’ played on Astro turf.’

    Traditionally the Emirates Cup pre-season tournament in London generates income equal to any American tour. Most EPL players would prefer not to travel half way round the world for a few meaningless exhibition, particularly after playing in the World Cup played and having traveled from far off South Africa.

    Want to alienate Wenger? Being told by the business department about how and where to prepare his team for commercial consideration would achieve just that. This is control freak who oversees his players diet and caloric intake. He’ll brook no interference with how he sees fit to run the team. Given his success, why should he?

    With Kroenke, Gazidis, and Fox, American sports marketing holds considerable sway over Arsenal. It seems unlikely the football purist in Wenger would much respect these MLS types. Wenger was said to be disappointed by the forced departure of David Dein, Wenger’s close friend on the Arsenal board, it’s not too hard to imagine Wenger walking away once his contract expires, if the MLS types insist on an American pre-season. tour. He tops every world club’s managerial wish list, from Madrid to Munich (to ManU once Ferguson retires), and would quickly find a managerial job with a leading team on his terms. Not only would he walk away; his players universally adore him, and players, such as Fabregas, would follow him out the door for elsewhere with him.

    An economist by training, Emirates stadium is Wenger’s brain child and he has almost singlehandedly built the club into a world football power within 14 years and made a fortune for Arsenal. In any showdown, Wenger holds the upper hand. His departure would be a loss so great the team may not recover for years, if at all. Certainly Kroenke would not buy the team only for Arsenal to lose its most valuable asset.

    Expect Wenger to stand his ground. In light of everything he’s done for Arsenal and all his contributions to the beautiful game, that’s good enough for me. After all, as the saying goes, ‘Arsene knows.’

    • Gunner JD says:

      Hmm….you know what? I was thinking earlier that the whole idea of an American tour might be worth trying, but you’ve convinced me. It’s not worth it for exactly what you’re saying here. I am now really praying that Kroenke isn’t so enamoured with the idea that he’ll risk losing what Wenger represents. He has to be smarter than that, right?

      My expectation then, has to be that they are able to cultivate a partnership from their respective positions, in order to do what is best for the club on BOTH sides of their jobs. I have to believe in Kroenke’s ability to be that kind of owner with regard to the Gunners, since that mentality seems to be prevalent in his dealings with the Avalanche and Nuggets (and yes, Rapids) management and coaching staff. That is to say, he generally leaves the affairs of the on-the-field side of things in the hands of the people he is paying to do those jobs: the coaches and managers.

      He will no doubt want to make Arsenal a more profitable football operation than what they are currently, since of course he is a businessman first and foremost, and there are other things he can implement besides an ill-advised pre-season excursion that will allienate his legendary manager. Hopefully he can respect Wenger’s position on this. Fingers crossed.

  12. bahns says:

    ctrl+f Rapids….

    funny how the Kroenke defenders above point to his various successful sport franchises, but fail to mention the struggling and irrelevant “soccer” team he already owns.

    • Gunner JD says:

      Yeah you got me. I honestly forgot to mention them. I thought of that well after I posted, but to a certain degree, who cares? Does this portend anything of relevance to the Gunners or Kroenke’s involvement with them? Probably not. You yourself used the word irrelevant.

  13. SFGooner says:

    As on most things Arsenal, I defer to Le Boss on the decision not to travel to America. As enjoyable as it might be to see the club on this side of the pond, it cannot compare to seeing a match that has real ramifications, plus why take the risk that it might be detrimental to the team’s effort.

    For the Gooners who long to see the Arsenal, nothing beats a trip to North London. Mortgage the house, sell the wife (or husband) and kids, embezzle from your employer, steal from the little kid selling lemonade on your block. Do whatever it takes to go see a match at the Emirates.

    And remember, a paid membership in Arsenal America (shameless plug), The Official North American Supporters Club will allow you access to tickets at face-value (with nominal processing charges).

    C’mon you Gunners!

  14. The Gaffer says:

    I find it incredible how so many Arsenal supporters put their complete trust and faith in Wenger and agree with anything he says. Do Manchester United fans worship and idolize Sir Alex Ferguson as much and agree with every decision he makes? I don’t think so.

    While I don’t want to take anything away from what Arsene Wenger has built at Arsenal, he is not god. He’s achieved so much but needs to be held accountable for his team not winning any trophies for several years.

    Maybe it’s time for Wenger to stop being so stubborn and to let his team play a few friendlies in the United States. I think so.

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

    • Jon says:

      Hey Gaffer,

      I get that your comment is not directed at any one poster, so maybe not at me, but since I did post above where I generally defer to Wenger on matters football, I figured a response was warranted.

      I agree that Wenger is not a deity or anything, and I agree that it is a poor idea to accept anything that the man says without careful examination, as I would for any other person on their views and positions. I hope that is apparent from what I said in my post on this very subject.

      That said, there are two things that I think are relevant in defence of the deference most Arsenal fans give to Wenger:

      1) When it comes to football matters, Arsene Wenger’s expertise by far outstrips my own, obviously. It is one thing to examine his positions with an eye to logic and evidence, but where there is doubt about one of his views or more than one reasonable view, then I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. His views on training methods, preparation for games, player qualities, diet regimen and club financies are going to be more informed than mine. I would expect Wenger to respect my expertise on areas of my profession and training, and I in turn respect him on his. That doesn’t mean that I accept his position blindly (the famous ‘Arsene Knows’ mantra), but it does mean I give the man a very large dose of deference. If he thinks that travel to America does not prepare the team properly, absent really strong evidence to the contrary, I am not in a position to disagree.

      I think his track record alone merits an even higher level of deference than I would offer to most managers (who are also more football knowledgeable than me so the largument above would apply as well). Historically, his successes with the team and preparation have borne out the fact that his knowledge seems to be well-grounded.

      2) For better or worse, Arsene is Arsenal’s greatest asset. The team would be in a much different (and worse) position without him. This is the core of dwf’s point above. This means that he gets an ADDITIONAL dose of deference on his football decisions, not just because of his knowledge and experience, but because of his importance to the club. This is less of a good reason to support his views, I grant you, since it is not based on any measureable grounds like success or player development, and many important people to an organization can make stupid choices.

      But given Wenger’s importance to the club, most fans should be willing to suffer some small losses purely on account of Wenger’s “stubbornness”, as you put it, because the opportunity lost is small price to pay for the benefit of having probably the best manager in the world running the club.

      You see exactly that kind of deference given to Sir Alex by United fans.

      I always take a critical eye to any position taken by anyone, including Wenger. But I am willing to give the man a large dose of the benefit of the doubt on football matters. Unless there is evidence that suggests that Wenger is wrong about the preparation value of an American trip, or unless I see good arguments to convince me that whatever is gained by an American trip is more valuable than the loss of better preparation for players, then I am with Wenger on this issue.

      That’s not blind trust. I like to think it is informed support.

      Cheers,

      Jon

      • Gunner JD says:

        Gaffer, I think this is a more well reasoned argument than the one you support regarding taking the American tour. I get that the money and exposure would only benefit the club, but as others here have said:

        1.) They still make money on their present pre-season regimen.

        2.) There is no getting around the fact that Wenger has very real and informed reasons for not wanting his players involved with such a trip, and nothing any of us has to say on the subject offers forth a legitimate
        counter-argument to it. It would be one thing if any of us were on some kind of even ground with him, but that’s not even a remote possibility.

        And I’m not sure how asking for accountability from Wenger would be achieved by or be related to him relaxing some of his “stubbornness” to play some friendlies in the US.

        And as far as the following goes:

        “Do Manchester United fans worship and idolize Sir Alex Ferguson as much and agree with every decision he makes? I don’t think so”

        Really?

        I’m beginning to wonder if you really put an appropriate amount of thought into your positions, Gaffer. Funny how I may not be the only one who wonders this.

        • The Gaffer says:

          Gunner JD, of course I put a lot of thought into my positions and opinions. Readers may not always agree with them, but we’re all entitled to our own opinion.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

  15. I think the Gaffer makes very convincing points. While I understand the Boss’s concerns regarding the trip, history has shown that the trip has not proven detrimental to the clubs that have undertaken them. I also didn’t realize the amount of money that Barcelona had taken in from their trip. I was lucky enough to see them when they came to NYC and with a new stadium opening that will be the best facility in the country ( with real grass dvs), it would be fantastic for Arsenal to come. Perhaps it is not ideal in a World Cup year, but considering the money at stake, and if Arsenal aren’t forced to play CL qualifiers, I don’t see how the bad outweighs the good in that scenario.

    As for the Gaffer’s comments on Arsenal fans’ support of Wenger, I would say Jon pretty much summed it up. Well said. Nice article, Gaf.

  16. dwf says:

    A few additional thoughts on the topic at hand: Does Wenger need to let Arsenal plan U.S. preseason tour?

    Money aside, what does Arsenal stand to gain from an American tour?

    Does Arsenal really need the money? Based on the current Arsenal business model the answer is no. At least not as much as other EPL teams touring the U.S. and Asia.

    ManU, Chelsea and Liverpool, they and other teams all are drowning in debt of different origins and need every possible dollar. Admirably Barca wears the UNICEF shirts and has no kit sponsors, otherwise their debt level wouldn’t be as high. They have to tour in order to crunch the numbers and just to service their debt.

    Arsenal are a bit different. Talent aside, Barcelona are the only European team similar in style to Arsenal, the embodiment of the beautiful game. In part, their style of play is predicated on 1) their youth academy and 2) the length of time their core players, Pujol, Xavi,Iniesta, Pedro, Borjan, et al., have been playing together. Arsenal are no different. They promote from within their youth academy, and the players’ familiarity with one another makes for better, more cohesive team play. On the strength of this model Arsenal have never had to break the bank to sign players. Once these Arsenal players hit maturity and stride together they will be a force to reckon with for years to come, much like Barca is now.

    Arsenal FC is the economist Wenger’s text book business plan, a low investment farm system of young talent designed to yield first team players. Premised in Arsenal’s network of scouts, particularly of young French players, and Wenger’s nous of recognizing talent, Arsenal’s business model is financially self-sustaining with inherent sporting synergies. By developing players in-house, Wenger has produced first team talent plus income derived from the sales of finished players and re-tooling players later sold at considerable profit (more than Euro 100 million) who don’t make the cut at Arsenal. This limited free agent spending, its policy of youth promotion, and sale of finished players amounts to a spending cap that made the construction of Emirates Stadium possible, a model found nowhere else in the EPL.

    Combined with the Emirates’ game day gate, the Highbury real estate sales and continued fiscal responsibility, Arsenal stands alone in not being burdening with unmanageable internal or external debt. In fact, they are managing their debt better than any other European football club. The club most similar to Arsenal in terms of new stadium construction is Bayern Munich, who are bigger spenders in terms of player acquisitions, although Bayern doesn’t have Arsenal’s youth academy or scouting network. (Ironically, both teams are also molded in the image of their two leading men: Wenger and Hoeness.)

    Once it retires its debt, Arsenal will own the Emirates free and clear and enjoy huge profits while ManU, Real, Chelsea, and just about ever other European team, including Barca, will drown in interest payments on the debt alone without much denting the principal debt. For these teams, sooner or later judgment day will arrive. They will have to pay the piper; teams will be forced to live within their means, as is currently required in the Bundesliga. Extravagant player purchases will become things of the past. The will be greater parity between the top, mid-level and lower tier teams.

    ManU, like Arsenal, have always promoted from within their own excellent youth academy. Chelsea, will lesser academy results, and Liverpool, have also begun emulating Arsenal’s academy template.

    Which, based on the current economic model, is why Arsenal really don’t need the U.S. preseason tour. Once free and clear in the near future, Arsenal will be sitting pretty and alone at the top. Sitting pretty and, hopefully, still playing plenty pretty.

  17. dwf, I have been predicting that very same scenario. However, regarding the US tour, I am not saying that Arsenal “need” to tour the U.S. But a US tour would do two things: One, it would be a long-overdue acknowledgment by the club of its American supporters. And, secondly, it could only help to grow the brand here, which is a department the club has been far behind United, Chelsea, and even Liverpool. For example, Chelsea has US-based “store,” while if an American Arsenal supporter wants to purchase goods directly from the club they are forced to pay a flat-rate shipping fee of 18 pounds. That is just ridiculous. The USA website was clearly aimed at supporters new to not just the club but the game. It does nothing for the many long-time and feverishly loyal supporters of the club in America. I get the sense that the club doesn’t seem to realize just how big and how strong a base they already have in the States and this also means that they don’t truly realize the possibilities of growing it even more.

    • dwf says:

      Merry Xmas to all Gunners and lovers of the beautiful game!

      More thoughts on should Arsenal do a U.S. preseason tour.

      It’s the world’s game. Go anywhere in the world, anywhere. You don’t need certain weather conditions to play. You can play rain, sun, or snow, day or night. You don’t need to be a certain height or weight to play or make a play. No need for expensive equipment or body armor to play the game.

      No, all you need is a ball, and the rest takes care of itself. You’ll see people from different countries otherwise divided by geography and language sharing a common love for ball and game. The ball is a symbol that means the same thing to everyone everywhere. Lingua franca bridging geography and language, politics and cultures, race and religion, freely united people and the world by their love for the bounce and hypnotic spell of the ball. Anywhere in the world. Everywhere, sadly, except in the U.S.

      After all these years, why hasn’t the game caught on here? The answer, in two letters, is: T-V!

      Surf any ESPN or other sports programming channels you’ll see rodeo, bowling, cheer-leading contests, spelling bees, x-treme sports, competitive eating and poker (fine athletic events they), even fishing and hunting programs showing human beings actually killing scores of wildlife. You’ll see these and sundry other pseudo sports before finding football. Sorry, MLS. Notwithstanding David Beckham, MLS don’t count as football. It’s soccer. It even calls itself soccer. MLS as a product sucks and is as far from football as I am presently from Emirates Stadium!

      The only way to grow the game is to show the game. So, why haven’t the smarty pants sports programming execs figured that out by now?

      To their minds, ‘soccer’ isn’t profitable because the game is not conducive to their primary job, showing as many commercials as possible. From an audience perspective, ‘soccer’ doesn’t have enough scoring. To an audience unaccustomed to the nuances of the beautiful game there is no entertainment value in a scoreless football game. (Although that same audience would be thrilled by a scoreless no hits baseball game.) As a nation with Attention Deficit Disorder jacked up on junk food and sugar drinks, our exercise consists of switching the remote control to faster, higher scoring, real, ‘action’ sport, then falling into a Cheeto coma on the couch, exhausted from channel surfing.

      In order to grow the game you have to show the game. So, Mr. Kroenke, here’s my suggestion on how to grow the Arsenal brand in the U.S. Before getting into a turf war with Wenger over a U.S. preseason tour, why not introduce your product on TV? Why not broadcast Arsenal games, old and new ones? In terms of style of play, Arsenal is similar to Barcelona and would easily brand itself.

      If memory serves me, Kroenke owns Dick’s Sporting Goods, perhaps the country largest sports merchandise mass retailers, making Kroenke, the owner of Arsenal and Dick’s Sporting Goods and kit and caboodle sole distributor of all things Arsenal.

      Another and similar business cross platform, those same regional sport stations broadcasting the Colorado Avalanche, the MLS’ Rapids, and NFL games also should show Arsenal games. Arsenal’s style is irresistible. Like all good art, beauty made to look effortless. Once the public gets to know Arsenal sports fans will know a good thing when they see it and want to see more of Arsenal’s irrepressible play.

      So, Mr.Kroenke, as they say, show us what you got. What you’re holding? Show us what you’re working with. Let the American people see Arsenal at its best playing the beautiful game. Show it on TV and on broadband. Sell it to us at Dick’s and online. First show Arsenal, then brand Arsenal. As they further say, the product will sell itself. Then perhaps do a U.S. preseason tour. (Memo to Mr. Kroenke: Be sure not to stand too close to Arsene Wenger in case of his outburst when you do talk to him about it.)

      Once people know the way Arsenal play, and Arsenal jerseys at Dick’s will fly of their hanger faster than a couch potato with ADD, waking up from a Cheeto coma and holding the remote control, can say: ‘Cesc Fabregas.’

  18. I don’t see that last scenario happening any time soon, if at all. However, all American football fans know the way Arsenal play and their reputation. I think that alot of people, from European Gooners to the club itself, perhaps even to other American Arsenal supporters, underestimate the level of support the club already has here in America. At least here in New York City, I think I can say that Arsenal are the most feverishly supported English club. Arsenal are available to watch on American television more than they are in England. It is a rare weekend indeed that Arsenal’s match is not being broadcast. All this support and exposure in America has come without the club lifting a finger or even acknowledging the support. So I believe the time is right, i.e. within the next two summers, to come to America as both a branding mission and an acknowledgment of the club’s American supporters, of whom many, like myself, have supported the club for over a decade.

  19. Adrian says:

    Pissing Arsene Wenger off is definately the worst outcome for AFC, but I really don’t see how the preparation could be that much worse than in Austria?
    Certainly there would be more travel, and press, but I’m sure that could be mitigated by great planning:
    Organise the tour early and leave a gap to the Emirates Cup
    Choose a reasonably quiet, quality training facility – certainly there would be plenty to choose from.
    Plan press coverage well. Limit star availability.
    Limit player fatigue. Rest star players and those featuring in WC.

    The team could rest stars, while still playing an awesome team!
    If starters would be: Arshavin, RVP, Theo, Cesc, Nasri, Diaby, Song, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Almunia,
    then that still leaves Eduardo, Vela, Bendtner, Rosicky, Wilshere, Ramsey, Denilson, Eboue, Senderos, Djourou, Silvestre, Gibbs, Traore, Fabianski,Mannone, not to mention upcoming talents like Fran Merida, Eastmond, Sanchez Watt, Gilbert. (8 star internationals in there)
    With a squad approaching 40 players it would be possible to rest the starters while still presenting a strong squad with star players worthy of the supporters in the US – that is what MU, Barca, Chelski do.
    Long term, these tours increase support/profile which increases club revenues which can never be a bad thing.

    Having said that the squad can handle a well planned tour, it has been noted that AFC still has a relatively small squad, and with the transfer window opening now lets hope there will be some “right players at the right price” coming in.

    On that note it surprises me that Felipe Melo who was heavily linked with Arsenal 6 months ago, and is now rumoured to be exiting Juve at a huge discount, is not being mentioned as a possible transfer target at all? Not to say he’s the best candidate…

    I’d love to see Edin Dzeko and Mamadou Sakho join Arsenal, although I’m sure Wenger will uncover and groom some unknown talent instead, which brings me to my final two points:
    A) some great talent has been brought through the ranks at Arsenal, some stays while some goes – for example take Defensive Mid – Diarra, Flamini, Diaby and Song were relative unknowns – and giving young players first team experience on the world stage encourages development. (Austria is hardly world-stage)
    B) with Wenger noting that some players are out of price range (Dzeko? Ronaldo? Benzema?) it is impossible to argue that Arsenal couldn’t use the extra cash (long term and short term) from a tour…

    If someone can tell me what is better about Austria training please let me know…

  20. Brian says:

    To try and predict what Silent Stan’s ownership of the Rapids will mean for an Arsenal takeover is pointless and ignorant. For my misguided UK brothers that throw his MLS team’s performance into the debate as if it is a crystal ball looking into the future, please understand the governing body, restrictions and overall lack of talent within MLS. There is no meritocracy in the MLS, success is punished when the top players are forced to move around for parity and to limit club payroll. If anything, a system such as MLS makes Stan appreciate Wenger’s developmental philospohy even more.

    Arsenal belongs to those who give them self over to their incredible style of play, not exclusively to North Londoners. As a an American Gunner fan that has traveled to Europe dozens of times to see many clubs, I would urge some of the hometown boys that have been critical of Stan and the Yank supporters to check the nationalities of our squad before wrapping yourselves in the Union Jack. Arsenal is an international team and has been for a long time. If Arsenal is to compete long into the future with ManU, Chelsea, Liverpool and others the team REQUIRES international support and $ (thats right dollar signs not punds or euros).

    No one in the States expects to see Arsenal every summer for a 12 day tour, however, hiding away in Austria every year seems ridiculous. It certainly hasn’t helped Arsene win anything lately. As for the extra money the club could make with a US visit, let’s try and recall the incessant whining about transfers and needs the Gunners have every year thru departures to big spending clubs or injuries that become more catastrophic because we don’t have enough ripe talent behind our starters. Arsene’s reserve squad is always big in potential and small in their ability to compete in the Prem right now. Hence his need and tendency to overplay youth. $8-10 million won’t buy a Ronaldo but it will buy quality spots in the roster we are always lacking due to thin bench. Do you think Wenger would like to have an additional $10M in his pocket right now as he searches for proven help up front? Who’s gonna give that to him now Eduardo? What if Gallas or a starting quality defender is lost to injury? is Gibbs ready? He certainly wasn’t last year. We are one or two injuries away from falling way out of the top 4 and it should nt’ be that way every year. You don’t have to overspaend but why always make it harder than it has to be?

    I spent a lot of money watching Real Madrid, Chelsea and Ac Milan in US friendlies this past summer and will do it again next year. I can only hope Arsenal will be in the mix this time.

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