Following the 2010 annual Arsenal shareholders meeting it seems quite clear, Arsenal are going on tour. All those years when Wenger would applaud the wonders of a European tour, the benefits the players would see over the course of the season of staying closer to home, concentrating on fitness and not club promotion and media work, enjoying an Emirates based tournament, well, they are over. Modern football is upon us too. Wenger pretty much said as much. During the annual shareholders meeting he said modern commercial and media pressures had necessitated a foreign money spinning pre season tour. The idea is this.
A tour of America, involving three matches, for instance, might generate direct revenues (merchandise, gate reciepts) of £5 million. Furthermore, the three matches might generate indirect revenues (brand awareness, fan development) of another £2-3 million. That’s a substantial amount of money we are currently missing out on. Of course, Wenger might retort, and probably did, that the Emirates tournament we host every season in August generates plenty of moneyitself. What is clear is that it does not help us greatly promote the brand, Arsenal, in other parts of the world apart from North London. Ajax, Porto, Celtic and Milan fans might become a little more appreciative of how we play but they already support a team and are not going to fill our coffers. North Americans looking for a European soccer team to follow will fill our coffers. The idea makes plenty of sense, at least to those in the boardroom. In fact i am confident Stan Kroenke, the largest shareholder at Arsenal, has had a part, some part, in this. Not that it’s a bad thing. Not at all. I think in the long run the more people know about Arsenal the better for us.
Isn’t it about time we were as popular as some of the other biggest teams in Europe? It sure is. Travelling abroad i always see plenty of Liverpool and Manchester United shirts. I even see more Chelsea shirts then i do our own. It might only be steady growth but besides affecting the players fitness in a miniscule way – after all, Manchester United and Chelsea cope every season, despite travelling to Asia or North America – it will have plenty of benefits in th elong term. It’s about time we had a foreign tour that captured the imagination of the fans and the media. A 2011 tour of America, which will probably be announced in the next few months, is a good idea.