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United States and Japan Vie For Arsenal Pre-Season Tour

Photo by wonker

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.

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  1. meta

    February 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    One of the main reasons why Arsenal will most likely choose a trip to Japan (as has been mentioned in the most recent reports) is the fact that Japan probably has the most ripe fanbase in the world. Japanese fans are quite passionate and are keen to purchase a lot of merchandise to show their support for their club. It also helps that products as a whole are generally higher priced in Japan – prices that wouldn’t be comparable say in the US, so many clubs and companies are keen to break into the market for the chance of high profits. There’s far more potential there.

    Also, there is a vast Arsenal fanbase in Japan as well, just as old and large as the one in the US (perhaps even moreso), and this will increase far more now with the rising star of Ryo Miyaichi, who’s already become Japan’s new darling, being a hot topic on Japanese news & talk shows – name me any American player or any Arsenal player who’s had the same sort of mainstream news coverage in the US recently. He has had a remarkable start to his career and he might accompany Arsenal to the trip to Japan (though perhaps Feyenoord would want him back for their pre-season, such has been his impact in the Dutch Eridvisie).

    Also, football is much more popular in Japan than it is in the United States, where it is still undoubtedly looked at as a “foreign” or “fourth/fifth sport”, far behind American football, baseball and basketball. The Japanese football team has seen a lot of success recently, particularly their great showing in the World Cup and their Asian Cup win, which has invigorated a lot of talk, interest and support in the game. Yes, the US might have lot of American football stadiums that hold many supporters, but it’s still not going to attract a lot of mainstream news coverage, the sort that’s already attracting Arsenal at the moment and which will make the club the talk of the country once they arrive in the summer.

    • meta

      February 26, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      Another point I forgot to mention is the well-documented fact that Arsene quite likes Japanese culture and especially the cuisine, from his time in the J League. He incorporated a lot of the same ethos in Arsenal after he joined the club; he’s even authored a well-received book in Japan. He might want to introduce the Arsenal players to Japanese cuisine and their culture, which he will have known very well and where he still retains many contacts. So, there are many other reasons why Arsene would want to bring the squad to Japan – it would be an illuminating experience for the players & Arsene himself would be quite keen on the idea.

  2. Lyle

    February 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    12 hours to Tokyo isn’t too bad actually. And once you’re there, Japan isn’t that big so you jet around quickly to wherever you need to go.

    New York may be only 7 hours away from London (via London), but Los Angeles is another 5 hours away from New York, which puts it roughly equal to the Rising Sun’s capitol city.

  3. Albert

    February 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Just and FYI, most international friendlies in SoCal have been played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena ( Cap. 93,000 ) and not the LA Coliseum.

    DomiNate I hope you’re right about Arsenal coming to LA.

    • The Gaffer

      February 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm

      You’re correct Albert. The Rose Bowl is a much better example. Thanks.

      The Gaffer

    • SteveD

      March 23, 2011 at 12:34 pm

      I’m from LA and have attended international friendlies at both the Coliseum & Rose Bowl. Barcelona vs Chivas, a few years ago, Manchester United vs Club America in 2003 (while back) were both held at the Coliseum. Seems just recently the Rose Bowl has been the favored spot. Chelsea vs Inter, Barca/Real vs Galaxy…etc. I’d LOVE for a Man United vs Arsenal tie in La, the place would erupt!

  4. Phenoum

    February 23, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Where’d you get your numbers for Cowboys stadium?

    More like 105,000…

    • The Gaffer

      February 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm

      Cowboys Stadium capacity for football is 80,000, which is expandable to 111,000 only with standing room.

      The Gaffer

      • LC

        February 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm

        After the Superbowl, I wouldn’t trust ANY capacity figures peddled about by the Cowgirls organization.

        • The Gaffer

          February 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm

          Whether it’s 80,000 or 111,000, the point is that the stadium’s capacity is much larger than the stadiums in Japan.

          The Gaffer

          • meta

            February 26, 2011 at 1:48 pm

            The fact is, even if there are a lot of American football stadiums that are that large, do you think it’s wise to take a cross-country trip that stretches across three separate timezones and across such vast distances – and for how many matches, exactly? Will they be sellouts, and how much of it are the owners and the NFL teams going to take out of that cake? Plus, there are several other teams in the same country at the same time – so there would be almost no coverage of Arsenal in the media; let’s face it, the club’s not exactly a magnet for gloryhunters.

            In contrast, it’s much easier traveling between cities in Japan, as the distances are far, far less and the players wouldn’t even have to sit aboard a plane during their trip at all. And hey, there’s only one timezone to worry about. The stadiums in Japan are definitely large enough, and there are many that are the size of the Emirates and some that are larger. Plus, the higher prices (due to the higher standard of life, etc.) will even out to a greater profit. And as I mentioned in my other post, there are several other reasons to why Japan would be a more attractive prospect to Wenger and Arsenal.

  5. DomiNate

    February 23, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I’m a Chelsea FC fan from Seattle. I can vouch for a large American fan base for Chelsea, at least in here in the PNW.

    Sounders season tickets include a “top international” game against an elite Euro club. After hosting Chelsea, Madrid, Barca, Man U,and Celtic in the past, I can’t think of a team Seattle would rather bring in.

    I have a strong feeling that the US will win out, and Arsenal will stop by LA, Colorado, and Seattle.

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