The Daily Mirror reports this morning that Arsenal is seriously considering accepting a £15 million offer to visit Japan this summer as part of their pre-season tour. Arsenal has also received an offer from organizers in the United States for a similar tour.
Money talks and if Arsenal has the opportunity to make that much money (equivalent to $24 million), then it may be hard for the Gunners to pass up the opportunity. Plus, Arsenal will want to capitalize on their recent signing Ryo Miyachi, who is a Japanese teenager. And Wenger managed in Japan before.
At the same time, one reason why Arsenal should consider touring the United States is that the flying time between London’s Heathrow Airport and Tokyo is 12 hours and 35 minutes. Flying time from Heathrow to New York City is 7 hours and 40 minutes.
On top of that, Colorado Rapids is Arsenal’s official club partner in the United States. Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis was the deputy commissioner with Major League Soccer, while American Stan Kroenke is a major shareholder at Arsenal.
The other advantage that the United States has is larger stadia. Of the 18 clubs in Japan’s J League Division One, there are only four clubs with large capacities (Yokohama Marinos, 72,370; Urawa Red Diamonds, 63,700; Sanfrecce Hiroshima, 50,000; and Kashima Antlers, 40,728). Outside of J League stadiums, Japan’s stadium for its national team, the National Olympic Stadium, has a capacity of 48,000, while the highest seating capacity of any stadium, at Yokohama International Stadium, has a total of 72,327 seats. In comparison, Arsenal could choose from stadiums in the United States such as Qwest Field (67,000), Los Angeles Coliseum (93,607), New Meadowlands (82,566), Cowboys Stadium (80,000), M&T Stadium (71,008), Soldier Field (61,500) and countless other large stadiums across the country.
The United States also has a massive fanbase of supporters for Arsenal. In The Mirror’s article, one of the reasons why Arsenal may go to Japan is because the newspaper reports Chelsea has not been able to crack the U.S. market. I find this laughable because Chelsea has made significant strides in the United States, playing in front of massive sell-out crowds. And you see far more Chelsea shirts worn by soccer fans throughout the United States than the time before the club started touring the States.
Ultimately the decision may come down to money to see whether organizers in the United States will offer more money than their Japanese counterparts. It may be difficult for the U.S. organizers to put together a package that will come close to $26 million however. In comparison, Barcelona’s tour to the United States this summer is expected to net the club over $8 million.