What Impact did Premier League Clubs Have in North America This Summer?

 What Impact did Premier League Clubs Have in North America This Summer?

Most Premier League clubs often travel to Asia for their preseason tours, except this summer where North America was graced by the presence of four Premiership teams: Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers.

But when you evaluate each of the team’s tours to this side of the Atlantic, would you consider them a success or not? Success could be construed as not only how well they played on the pitch, but it’s also important to evaluate how the team did from a marketing and financial aspect.

So let’s look at each how club did.

A Tale Of Two Cities
The gulf in talent between Manchester City and Manchester United’s during their preseason tours in North America was alarming. Manchester United’s mostly B-team played with a hunger and level of skill that was encouraging to see. Tom Cleverley, Javier Hernandez, Darron Gibson and Federico Macheda all were impressive on this tour. Chris Smalling seems to be improving each game he plays. And Manchester United veterans Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Wes Brown, John O’Shea and others look like they’re up for another season.

On the pitch, it was quite a success for Manchester United. The team is playing with a confidence and swagger that I haven’t seen in quite some time. Plus, the speed of their attacks have been helped greatly by Hernandez and Danny Welbeck. Even Berbatov looks reinvigorated and ready to score more goals.

In contrast, Manchester City – for the most part – looked like a shambles. The team is playing in a funk and players look disinterested, unmotivated and very tired. With City there wasn’t the pace in their attack that we saw from United. Yes, City was missing Carlos Tevez who still hasn’t returned from World Cup duty. But, to be fair, Manchester United was missing Wayne Rooney.

Looking at this City side, it seems that they’re all thinking they may be getting the sack soon so why bother playing well. The team is still a shambles in defense. And the midfielders and forwards are not creating enough chances in front of goal. While City defeated Portland Timbers and Club America on this tour, the club played with so much apathy especially during the New York Football Challenge where they lost against New York Red Bulls and Sporting Lisbon. Yes, these are friendly tournaments that don’t mean a lot, but based on Manchester City’s performances during that weekend and their weak display against Inter Milan a few days ago, this is a team in need of a massive overhaul in the next two weeks if it’s prepared to mount a half-decent season.

Off the pitch, Manchester United’s tour was a crowning achievement. Their tour started off with a crowd of almost 40,000 in Toronto for a game against Celtic. The attendance would have been higher if the exorbitant tickets prices of $75 to $165 had been lower, but it was still an impressive turnout considering the prices. United’s tour continued in Philadelphia, Kansas City, Houston and Guadalajara in front of packed stadiums. United also managed to train in Chicago. Overall, United’s tour was a financial and marketing success.

For City, it was more difficult to ascertain whether their tour can be considered a success. Off the pitch, it definitely wasn’t. The club will have won very few new fans based on how they played. And in the games where they did play, the club had a tough time attracting large crowds. Their opening game against Portland was played in a tiny stadium with tickets only available to Timbers season ticket holders. But City’s games in New York, Atlanta and Baltimore had many empty seats. In all three of those cities, the opposition teams easily outnumbered the City supporters.

It’s very evident that Manchester City doesn’t have much of a following outside of the expat crowd in the United States. However, this tour could have been so much more successful for City on and off the pitch if they had at least tried to play with more passion. Soccer fans in the United States will not hand over their support cart blanche to a club. They need to feel inspired. And Manchester City was definitely lacking in the inspiration department on this tour. From a marketing perspective, they made all the right moves. But on the pitch, where it matters most, they played as if they didn’t really care.

When The Spurs Go Marching In
Tottenham Hotspur played in front of the same sparse crowds that City did in the New York Football Challenge, but the big difference was that Tottenham played with a lot more determination and creativity than City. While Spurs didn’t win the friendly tournament in New York, Robbie Keane did pick up the honors as best player of the tournament. And there were plenty of glimmers of brilliance from some of the Tottenham youngsters including Andros Townsend and Jonathan Obika.

Based on their enthusiastic performances, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tottenham will have won over some new fans either in New York or in California where Spurs played in an entertaining friendly against San Jose Earthquakes.

Tottenham will definitely be a club that will be welcomed back to the States. And presumably they benefited from the tour in both financial and marketing aspects.

There has been talk about the Barclay’s Challenge returning to the United States next summer, so it’s quite possible that Tottenham may be interested in returning to our shores.

Wanderers Came Home Champions
The tour among Premier League clubs in North America that went most under the radar was Bolton Wanderers who played friendlies in the Carolinas and Canada. And, you may have missed it, but Bolton Wanderers won the 2010 Carlsberg Cup after they beat Toronto FC on penalties in Canada.

Earlier in their tour, Bolton beat Charlotte Eagles in a friendly and also defeated Charleston Battery. The Trotters ended up going home undefeated on their North American tour, albeit against lesser opposition than the teams that the other Premier League sides faced.

As for financial and marketing gains, I don’t think either of  those were high on the list for Bolton. It was more of an opportunity for their players to get much-needed practice and a change of scenery before the 2010-11 Premier League season begins. No disrespect to Bolton, but they’re a much smaller club who are unable to draw large attendances wherever they go. They have a hard enough time trying to fill the seats at the Reebok Stadium than to worry about building an international brand overseas.

It’ll be interesting to see how many Premier League clubs come to the United States on tour during the summer of 2011. The club that seemingly everyone wants to see Stateside is Arsenal, but Arsene Wenger stubbornly refuses to bring his team here. But for clubs such as Spurs and Manchester City, their 2010 North America tours show that success isn’t built overnight and that it takes a lot of marketing investment and star players to attract large attendances. It also takes a team that is willing to play to win rather than just showing up and going through the motions, as Manchester City did far too often on this tour.

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. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
This entry was posted in General, Leagues: EPL. Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to What Impact did Premier League Clubs Have in North America This Summer?

  1. dave says:

    typical anti City rant, get a proper job you knobhead, its pre season, its supposed to be for getting fitness levels up, just get a grip of yourself will you.

    • Ben Ruskin says:

      If preseason is only about “getting fitness levels up”, then how come man u and spurs didn’t play as poorly as city. Stop taking everything personally and accept impartial views, if city had played well, it would have been acknowledged as such. U get a grip of yourself.

  2. BD says:

    Agreed…Citeh played like poopeh….

  3. bluefanmd says:

    Last year, Chelsea/Milan had 70k in M&T Bank Stadium. This year, M&T plays host to City/Inter and they get a little over 30k to show up! That is not a great indicator that people have an interest in their brand!

    • Tim says:

      The only game Man U got got 70k was in Houston, and i think that was a combination of Hernandez debut/MLS All star game. They didn’t sell out any other game they played in the US. So I don’t think it’s fair to put that squarely on City’s shoulders for not getting more people in the seats. As far as their on field play, i went to the Sporting and Inter games. They looked dreadful in both. Vieira and Jo should not be anywhere near a Premier League pitch come August 14th. In NY they didn’t even play a A/B starting XI it was A/B mixed with youngsters. Out of the starters on Saturday against Inter only Barry, Adebayor, the Toures and Adam Johnson will start for the Blues. Bridge, Zabaleta, Kompany, Vieira(see above), Jo (see above) are subs/fill in or surplus to requirements at this point. I don’t know if i’ll ever go see an International Friendly during a WC/Euro Summer because you don’t get a good feel for the team.

  4. jonny says:

    What a horrendous article. You obviously choose to leave out the success man city had unveiling The new facility in Spanish Harlem for under privileged and poor children there. You then choose to leave out that united too lost in their pre-season against chivas and Kansas city. You just take digs at city throughout. stick to what you know best , absolutely nothing. The times are changing

    • The Gaffer says:

      Jonny, I did neglect to mention the new facility in Harlem, you’re correct. But that’s more of an impact on a local scale, not North America as a whole.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  5. sean says:

    o-k city to be relegated sheik to walk away, players to revolt manager sacked
    chairman to commit suicide, would that be enough to make you happy?
    then maybe you can take a course in journalism

  6. Andy says:

    More anti city comments i’m from Manchester and was in New York for both games everybody had a good time. Its only pre season a lot of the players who played will not get much game time this season with the likes of tevez silva and others to come in i’m sure were in for a good season both on and off the pitch.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Andy, yes it’s only pre-season, but why did the Man United players (many of whom will also not get much game time this season) play so much better than Manchester City?

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  7. pbro says:

    Your spurs section of the article was alarmingly misinformed.
    “Tottenham Hotspur played in front of the same sparse crowds that City did”
    Spurs came close to filling the stadium to full capacity against the NY red bulls. They also sold out San Jose’s Buck Shaw stadium, setting their record attendance in the process. Before the San Jose game, they held an open training session at 9am on a Tuesday. Even still, thousands of people showed up to watch.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Pbro, I meant only the Spurs games at the RBNY Arena. On TV, I saw plenty of empty seats. The San Jose stadium was overflowing, yes.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • MichSpurs says:

        I was at the NYC (well, jersey) matches as well. Please note that while there was the odd City supporter here or there, the Spurs contingent was pretty big, very comparable to an away crowd in the EPL. Also, the heat was nasty, with the temps for the Saturday match vs Sporting Lisbon nearing 100 degrees, so many seats were sold, but simply not occupied as a heat warning was in place for the NYC region. We left the second match early, the one with NYRB and City, because it had been too blasted hot, but tickets WERE sold. That just didn’t show as well on the telly. We also ran into folks wearing kits and who had been at the matches, over the course of the next two days all around Manhattan and Brooklyn. From a marketing and brand awareness standpoint, it was a very successful trip for both Spurs and Sporting, with their many Portugese fans in North Jersey.

  8. HeavyRiffs says:

    Sir Alex Ferguson has been on the phone, he’s wondering if you wouldn’t mind please removing your tongue from his rectum? That is all…

  9. tonyspeed says:

    i was at a city game. they really did look tired. with the exception of adam johnson.

  10. Robert says:

    And how about that Pompey tour of the US…….yikes. Maybe it’s best not to mention that debacle.

    • Gary Talarino says:

      I went to Pompey-DC United at RFK. 100 degrees, Pompey playing in United’s away kit because United Airlines lost their luggage (conspiracy), and Hayden Mullins and a United player got sent off for arguing with each other (MLS refs – bad). And a hattrick was scored by a United player that probably couldn’t get a game for Dag & Red at this point in his career.

      RFK is easily the worst stadium I’ve ever been to. Aging facility, uncomfortable seats, and I paid almost five dollars for fries that I’d feel bad leaving behind for seagulls. They also have only one screen in the stadium for live action and replays, and it’s about the size of the flatscreen in my living room.

      It was more fun walking by Bobby Brown at DuPont Circle during the weekend than attending that match.

      On the upside, Steve Cotterill said the “boys really formed a bond” during the trip to the US. Too bad that keeping Prince Boateng in the squad (if they can) will end up being ten times more important to keeping Pompey up this season.

  11. CTBlues says:

    Chelsea vs Inter at the Rose Bowl had 81,224.
    Chelsea vs AC Milan at M&T Bank Stadium had 71,203.
    Chelsea vs Club America at Cowboys Stadium had 57,229.

    I was at the game vs AC Milan in Baltimore and got to see an amazing game. The starters played most of the game and it was tied 1-1 until like the 69th minute when Zhirkov gave us the lead. Ronaldinho was actually trying and played most of the game and when Guch came in as a sub supporters from both teams cheered his name.

    I think it was smart of Chelsea to not come to North America this summer after the World Cup because they new they wouldn’t have the players that everybody would want to see play. I hope they come back next summer though.

  12. d says:

    the Gaffer my arse, more like the red rag loving areshole

  13. Mizzy says:

    I too was at the City match vs Sporting Lisbon and I as well was disappointed in City’s performance. But i am also mindful of the fact that City were playing a mixture of kids, bums, has-beens, and one or two players fringe that might be fighting for a place on the squad. To my eyes it looks like Mancini approached this tour as a way to eliminate players from “squad of 25″ contention. It didn’t seem, to me at least, that Mancini’s mission was to win over as many new Manchester City fans as possible.

    And to my eyes the Gaffer doesn’t seem to be slagging off City as much as just conveying a general disappointment with what we were given. But then again its a lot more important to know just how good Boyata and Nimley are (and can be) versus, can we beat Sporting Lisbon in Harrison New Jersey in August.

    • huh says:

      Mizzy, what the gaffer fails to mention or more like it doesn’t know is that the mighty man utd didn’t have hardly any players at the World cup city had at least 8 inc players like tevez, de jong these players were not gonna be used so city played a very young side indeed unlke utd who’s players are the team like it or not welbeck, cleavley and macheda will play many games for utd as they simply have no options, on the other hand u will not see most of the young players city used as they are not in the squad with the exception of possibly boyata. City’s side against inter being the strongest they put out on this tour and that will be 6 or 7 different to the 1 thst starts the season. The tour was used to look at some of the young players and give the some of the fringe player there chance, with so many later stage world cup players u couldn’t expect much different.

  14. Welbourne Road says:

    There are many passionate fans of Man. U throughout the world, especially East Asia and Southern Africa. Your article highlights an apparently very successful visit by the team to North America where they travelled extensively and played 5 games against a mixed array of opposition teams, and indeed played without their holidaying World Cup stars.
    However as far as preparation for the coming EPL campaign, the above is no help whatever or a guide to early perfomance of the teams in the coming season.
    Harry Redknapp as stated Spurs tour was a distraction to their pre-season training with games played in the heat of the New York summer. Similiar considerations seem to have been behind Cities efforts. Interestingly both
    these teams used the tour to shop window certain players by starting them every game, for example Robbie Keene. As Harry added, a short trip to Exeter and Plymouth, Devon will be ideal for next year.

  15. CiTyBlUe says:

    Written by a United fan, first paragraph and I lost total interest as I dont need some jumped up little rag runt pointing out the obvious when I have eyes to see for myself.

    Amateur at best and your not even worth wasting time on so with that said goodbye.

    Tick, Tick, Tick, Tock.

  16. sam united4life says:

    typical shitty fools…..

    delusional as always hahahaha

  17. sam united4life says:

    Shitty to get dumped out of the champions league….tick, cock, tick tock

    34 years….tick, tock, tick, tock

    The gaffer was just stating facts and you wasteland boys know it!

    He probably ain’t even a United fan…..

  18. Duke says:

    Citeh fans are getting testy this summer. What’s going to happen if they spend all this money and don’t get a CL spot?

  19. Citysince77 says:

    That’s right you rag loving joker. America sure loves you! Not as much as your joke of an owner who has done nothing but financially rape you since he took over, not to mention every high flying shark in America who took the aforementioned joke up on his potentially fatal bond scheme you’ve all been told will sort the absolute mess you’re in nowadays. What City did in America was the beginning of things as our owner holds the best interests of the club at heart and realises we are starting off from a different position from the likes of Utd, Chelsea and even Tottenham. Do you really think Chelsea would have sold out a stadium in America ten years ago? Yeah it would have been nice to go to America and perform on the pitch like we did off it (some of the causes we got involved were a real sucess) but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Anti City forums like this are going to be part of the agenda until we actually win something, but once we do articles like this will be as hollow and pointless as the people that seemingly get paid to write them. All in all let them say what they want, they’re going to anyway.

  20. Can you remember that far back says:

    Its a decent article – just wish some fans of some clubs would own up when they arent well supported or arent playing well.

  21. mike says:

    anti city rubbish,man u need the money so went out with the 1st team ,city don’t need money so went out with b and c team giving players a chance to shine ,or be sold

    • Ben Ruskin says:

      Did u read the article or watch the games, United went out with a B team as well, be informed before u talk rubbish

      • huh says:

        What no Rooney and vidic that makes it a b team?

        • MNUfan1991 says:

          No Rooney, no Vidic, no Rio, no Evra, no Valencia, no Carrick, no Anderson, no Park, no Owen….

          • huh says:

            Rio injured, park blatantly b team, valencia in American squad so he is there, carick god knows , Anderson probably Just got off to Brazil without permission again he’s a b team player 2 anyway (funny how it’s a big deal when a city player does it!) and don’t make me laugh Owen a team, leave it out!

      • mike says:

        Man u played the A team minus vidic and rooney , unless man united is now a 2 man team as the rest are old and past it

  22. Smitty says:

    Was at the City vs. Milan game in Baltimore, and it was a weak game… Neither team looked great – Milan ran out a B or maybe a C team… At least City started their stars…. unfortunately they were jobbed 23 minutes in with the Red Card… that basically killed the whole game… was rubbish after that…

    But the MOST rubbish part – Inter Milan brought no merchandise with them…. are you kidding me? Why are they on tour if its not to sell some shirts… I was really disappointed… then when they through the C team on… and then started flopping on the ground and got Viera to get a red card with simulation…. I can’t be an Italian fan… it is just rubbish.

  23. smokey Bacon says:

    Where did all these City fans come from? There were none on here last season, now its all anti-City this and that. What a bunch of jokers. Trying winning something first before you complain about how everyone is against you, as you are beginning to sound like your cousins over at Old Trafford. The Gaffers premise was essentially correct – City were crap on this tour, pre-season or no pre-season. Feeling the pressure of expectation already and the season hasn’t even started. Unbelievable.

  24. El says:

    If the ticket prices were even marginally reasonable there would have been a higher turn out.

  25. mick says:

    These Citeh supporters are propper saddos taking the victim stance wherever they go. It is common knowledge that shiteh played cack in the US and looked like they couldn’t be arsed. So why be a load of bitches when someone points that fact out? Mugs!

    No matter how much money you spend on players you will always be in the shadow of Man Utd and that’s a fact! Utd and Fergie have done the intelligent thing by building a team up and adding talent here and there every season so the team are a solid unit and know each other really well. Whereas Citeh are just trying to stick a bunch of overpaid players together without creating a team and hoping for the best. And if you carry on every season spending loads without building up comradiere within the team then nothing will ever happen, they will always be a bunch of individuals underperforming!

    And the fact you are being personal towards this journo shows how petty you people are in the turquoise or is it pink side of Manchester, i think pink would suit you biatches better!

    Thanks for the article

    • mike says:

      saddos,biatches ,just 2 of the personal things you call man city fans quite a hypocrit to say city fans get personal while adding these comments ,or are you just daft

  26. Premierleaguered says:

    The fact is Shitty can never ,ever play like United.

  27. spooks says:

    TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC giants! (youtube yids in america NY/LA) 20 million worldwide etc love pompey fc & aberdeen combat dudes posse outlaws inter city casuals (ASC-657.) manure utd fans most groupies in far east, hard core chelski chavs media money nice post code few from surrey england. ello ello we are the tottenham boys.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>