Increasingly we’re seeing pre-season preparations forced to accommodate “brand-expansion” trips with Chelsea having traveled to the US and Liverpool to Asia in recent years (and United having traveled to both continents in the last 3 years).
Manchester United are headed to South Africa and will also play a pre-cursor of the Game 39 round with a face-off against Portsmouth in Nigeria at the end of their trip.
Everton will travel to the US as part of their pre-season. West Ham make an appearance as well, squaring up to the MLS All-Star XI. Fulham will travel to South Korea as part of their pre-season and are scheduled to play two games there right after playing Celtic at home.
It’s not a criticism of Chelsea, United or any club that makes the long-haul trip to Asia / Africa / Middle East / North America in an effort to combine pre-season preparations with expanding their fan base. Financial strength is important to a club’s success and pre-season friendlies and tournaments are an easy way to generate revenues, expand your fan-base in a different continent and mix it all up with giving your players much-need match-practice to be ready for the new season.
There are 3 weeks of pre-season football left before the Premier League season kicks off (the Community Shield being the unofficial starting point) – in that time players will travel around the globe, entertain crowds and smile for the cameras as their club does it’s best to generate revenues for the future from that trip. As long as they can play competitive football and not have to push themselves too hard, the effects of continent-hopping can be minimised, players can benefit from competing in different playing cultures and their club lines their coffers.
Pre-season football is all about making profit from the club’s downtime – and as the ‘arms race’ for financial strength grows, we’ll see clubs leveraging every resource they have to make more money all year long, not just during the season or pre-season.