Is the other side of the world for a pre-season friendly really worth it?
By Chris Morley - Fansonline staff
Friday 24 Jul 2009 14:18:00
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Next week sees the third staging of the Premier League’s Asia Cup- an opportunity for faraway fans to see selected teams from arguably the world’s best league alongside a local side looking to mix in with the ‘big boys’.

This year sees the turn of Hull City, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur to represent the league against Beijing Guoan of the Chinese Superleague (representing the host nation and city).  I

n the first round of games there’s a London derby between the Hammers and Spurs while Hull face Beijing, before a third place play off and the tournament final two days later.


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However, in this writer’s view it represents little more than a commercial exercise as the Premier League looks to make money in merchandise/ticket sales.

While some may see it as a valid warm up ahead of a new season I would question that. Surely taking a team to the other side of the world and forcing them to play potentially two games in a matter of days is not conducive to the pre-season objectives of most managers- to ease their players back into match fitness following a break, and I would imagine most are actually rather reluctant.

From the spectator’s point of view there is also the nagging doubt that clubs may choose to rest their big names, somewhat dampening the expectations, especially if you’ve travelled from England to watch your team in action as well as for the Asian supporter contingent.

There can be no doubt that the Far East has become an increasingly lucrative market for clubs, as evidenced by the numbers who flock there for games- Chelsea and Manchester United among them.

And I suspect that the opposition in the three previous Asia Cups- thee Malaysian and Thai national sides alongside Hong Kong’s South China FC- value the chance to test themselves against higher calibre opposition in front of the Sky TV cameras.

But I do feel it is all a tad overhyped and maybe even unnecessary despite being played only every two years- surely clubs organising their own tours should be more encouraged than what is increasingly resembling a league-backed sideshow?

 

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