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The New Frontier - Less About Pre-Season Training, more About new Markets and New Markets

Wednesday 27th July 2016
For the best sides in England, the pre season tour has become less about getting the players ready to play football again but about conquering new foreign markets.

Gone are the days where the likes of Manchester United would play against a side of semi-pros before slowly steeping up their preparations against the smaller professional sides from a European nation. In their place are the pre season tournaments. Bringing together the biggest teams to battle it out for a sponsor-laden trophy in a far away country.

In recent years the destination of choice has been America. With Major League Soccer ever growing in popularity in it's native United States and the increasing alliances between the likes of Manchester City and New York City FC, the US has played host to the Premier League's own battleground. Every side is looking to get their foothold in the market.

Why are sides so keen to become ‘America's Team'?

The simplest answer is the money. In 2014, Manchester United were able to amass £8million from their two-week tour of the US, according to an article from the Mirror. Their involvement in the International Champions Cup and claiming that title against Liverpool accounted for the majority of their windfall but also matches against sides like LA Galaxy, played in front of 89,000 fans will have aided not only that trip but also future arrivals in America.

So popular has this model become that even some of the least successful Premier League sides have been trying to emulate this. Last off-season West Brom went over to the States and competed in three matches, albeit against Orlando City, Charleston Battery and the Richmond Kickers. While this year Southampton travel across the Atlantic to play European opposition.

Last year's champions, Leicester City, played all of their 2015 pre season in England but this time around they have been drafted into the International Champions Cup to face sides like Real Madrid, prior to debut bow in the Champions League later this winter.

Interestingly Watford and Middlesbrough are the only two Premier League sides that have restricted their friendly matches to the United Kingdom, while EFL sides like Norwich City have travelled to Austria to test themselves following their relegation from the Premier League.

While many sides have flocked to America, where is the next country to become the pre season hot spot of choice?

China would be the most logical destination as one of the ICC divisions is being played there, featuring both Manchester Clubs and Borussia Dortmund. The Chinese league is also making a push to be recognised as one of the foremost leagues from around the world, having made massive statements in the transfer market for the last six months.

Another option for the future could be India. The economy there is following a similar trajectory as that of China and if this continues to be the case it won't be long before European Football turns it's attentions to this part of Asia. The impassioned people would make it an ideal pre season venue for the biggest clubs in England, as the Indian league aims to reach new found popularity on the back of signings like Nicolas Anelka.

With some any pre season becoming a jet setting adventure for almost all sides it might not be long before talk of a 39th league game or a world league again become buzzwords among European football's elite.


Matt Howes
Sports writer. Norwich City fan. If you want to give me feedback or talk about anything I have written then you can find me on Twitter @matthowes9 You can check out my other work on my online portfolio www.matthowesmedia.com for my musings on other sports.

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