Both Chelsea and Liverpool (after their takeover) have announced plans to take on the Far East market. Considering that over a billion people live in China alone (and another billion in India, even if they’re South Asia), there’s a huge market to be tapped.
Problem is – trips like these greatly hinder club efforts to effectively challenge for titles at home. Manchester United suffered in their ‘money-spinning’ trip to the US last season, Chelsea suffered this season. Real Madrid and Manchester United have done the obligatory Far East tours, and those did a lot for selling merchandise but little for helping players prepare for the upcoming season.
If Chelsea and Liverpool want to sell shirts and build a fanbase, there are other ways that would be more beneficial to their season preparations. Also, consider that at the end of the next season, 2007/2008, we’ll have Euro 2008, so whether they go at the end of this season or at the end of the next, it will take a massive toll on the fitness of these players.
There’s no arguing the fact that bringing players to prospective fans is an effective way to make money, but you’ve also got to be realistic and think about football once in a while.
And speaking from a football fan’s perspective who’s living in Asia, winning titles is the most effective way to bring fans to you. TV has brought the Premier League to our living rooms, bringing them to our cities will boost things in the short run but at the end of the day, it’s about whether you win titles or not.
As United have shown this season, a good pre-season plus staying injury free is crucial to success – how do Chelsea and Liverpool plan on a good pre-season when they’re going to be galloping around in the Far East playing at the sponsors’ and owners’ behest?