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Man Utd's Asian Focus Is Bad News for U.S.

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.

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  1. The Gaffer

    July 21, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Johnny on the Spot,

    Excellent questions. Chelsea fans may disagree with me, but I’m not entirely convinced that their tour of the States is doing much to expand their brand Stateside. California, yes. The rest of the country, no.

    You do raise an excellent point in that clubs like Everton and Aston Villa may have better luck expanding their fan base in the States than the other sides who are heading to Asia.

    I can’t foresee tons of fans becoming Villa or Everton fans overnight, but they’ll definitely win some hearts and minds of soccer fans Stateside if they put in convincing performances.

    Reading could build a big fan base in America. They already are appreciated by many expats and Americans living Stateside.

    The Gaffer

  2. Anonymous

    July 21, 2007 at 9:31 am

    There’s still plenty of room for others. The profusion of purpose-built grounds, the fact that English is the first language of choice hereabouts, the relatively short and easy trip and the pound-to-dollar exchange rate (a/k/a King George’s Revenge) all work in its favor, both for fans in the States and traveling support.

    Reading had to strike while the iron was hot, with Seol in their squad. They’ve yet to pay us a visit but, for the reasons spelled out above, should be booking next summer now if they haven’t already.

    And besides –you’ve paid a hundred bucks to sit with 65,000 and see United or Bayern or Milan in a game that doesn’t matter one time, and you’ve done it a thousand. Tough to schedule summer friendlies worth the money with MLS in-season I know, but in any case some new blood would do all some good.

  3. Johnny on the Spot

    July 21, 2007 at 8:12 am

    Do you think this opens the doors for other teams to market their brand, such as with Everton or Villa this year. Or do you think it means the Chelsea brand will continue to grow?

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