Pre-Season Tours

Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

July 31st, 2016, 2:42 pm #1

So for a lot of the world's biggest football clubs, the humble pre-season schedule of a Central European mountain retreat or a series of friendlies to boost the revenues of their smaller neighbours, has in recent years been added to or outright replaced by globetrotting exhibition games against clubs deemed to be of a similar stature. In more recent years many of these games have been put under the banner of a united competition, which thanks to this comic I can't not refer to as the Blobfish Cup.
Nothing wrong with the cup as a standalone idea, just a harmless way to slap a trophy or few onto a blatant cash-grab, but it seems to be symbolic of potential problems appearing on the horizon for club football.
But looking at a few clips of this season's fustercluck of a competition, it seems as though the fans in the 'big market' countries these games are taken to might have started to have enough. While the numbers are still high, a lot of the attendance figures don't seem to help when comparing to the stadium capacities they're being played in (the Manchester derby game in Beijing allegedly only had 40,000 out of 80,000 tickets sold at the time of cancellation).
High ticket prices are thought to be a big reason behind the empty seats, maybe it's a combination of that and the fans in those countries refusing to pay that much to watch weakened teams, but surely playing in those kinds of surroundings can't be worth the hassle of going out there, casual fans seeing pictures like that must do more harm to 'the brand' than any good they accumulate on their trip...
So the interesting question here is: have those big clubs discovered 'the limit' of what they can get away with, and will they now start to backtrack on their ticket prices and all-round excesses?
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Joined: November 3rd, 2006, 11:49 am

July 31st, 2016, 2:50 pm #2

I hope they will find limits but FIFA and UEfa could impose limits in the financial spendings of clubs  (just like in NBA) to prevent the richer to become always richer and to give "smaller" clubs a y to narrow the gap 
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Joined: December 26th, 2008, 11:44 am

July 31st, 2016, 3:21 pm #3

Actually I think the International Champions Cup series will be the start of someting new: the richest clubs will form their own league, their own competitions.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

July 31st, 2016, 8:50 pm #4

mattsanger92 wrote:
has in recent years been added to or outright replaced by globetrotting exhibition games against clubs deemed to be of a similar stature.
It may be worth noting that British clubs have been regularly globetrotting for over 100 years.  Indeed in earlier years it was more common to play a long sequence of provincial tour games, sometimes around 20 games being played on tour in the summer.  You can see a lot of those tours on RSSSF.
It was also not unheard of in previous eras to see two or more British clubs fly out somewhere, play each other, then bugger off without playing local teams, but it did happen.  Chasing the money was just as important then as now.
I guess what you are asking is, have we reached saturation of aggressive marketing of European football overseas?  And the answer is, it depends where.  There are always "new" markets to be found, and these things go in cycles anyhow.  The USA seems to be fashionable at the moment, maybe next India.  Anywhere with owners who have more money than sense always stands a chance.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

August 1st, 2016, 3:41 pm #5

Right on that point about clubs always doing it, but with the old ones am I right in thinking it was more of a club just setting off on their own to take on local clubs of the tour destinations? These Rangers ones are a good example, where a league all-star team was probably the most prestigious opponent they'd meet.
Their main purpose was obviously to attract new fans from those parts and/or cater to generate revenue from expats, anything else is just a bonus, but it's not as though Celtic or Barcelona or whoever the big team of the era was were along for the ride as well, they'd generally be doing their own thing with the odd exception.
Even a couple of seasons ago clubs would often go out somewhere and only ever face local clubs, this pre-season in particular has just been a very coordinated effort to get big names at the same place at the same time.
And on the saturation of aggressiveness, I mean that will the clubs adapt to the evidence that they aren't the see-at-all-costs global ticket they thought they were (with a few exceptions) and position themselves to make better long-term decisions than going for a risky quick buck? If India is the next big destination, are their promoters looking at the empty seats in this pre-season and thinking 'sod that'?
Personally I'm entertained by the idea of one of those more-money-than-sense world leaders (someone like Turkmenistan's ex-president Saparmurat Niyazov, or Gabon's Ali "most expensive bricklayer only" Bongo) to try their chances at luring a big club and witness the sudden outburst of moral outrage at the ones who accept ...
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

August 1st, 2016, 4:08 pm #6

It was more common that individual club played local teams, but there are plenty of precedents of two or more clubs going out and playing exhibitions against each other.

As early as 1909, Tottenham and Everton played each other twice in Buenos Aires, for example.
In continental Europe pre-WW2 there were many Easter tournaments, sometimes involving two British clubs with local clubs.

Some other examples
http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1955.html (and other years of same)
http://www.rsssf.com/tablesw/wolveschelsea64.html
http://www.rsssf.com/tablesb/blackpool-blades-nz65.html
http://www.rsssf.com/tabless/sheffwed-fulhamtour66.html
http://www.rsssf.com/tablesw/worldsoccer77.html

What we don't see nowadays is the long tours where clubs would play 10 or 20 games.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

August 1st, 2016, 4:13 pm #7

On your last point, there were plenty of examples in the 1970s-80s of European clubs (even some very "big" ones) being flown in to help warm up the national team of Kuwait or Bahrain or Saudi before some important qualifier or the Gulf Cup. At that time clubs were not so rich as today.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

August 7th, 2016, 2:50 pm #8

So in the main version of this year's Blobfish Cup (still one game left but it's between the bottom two teams), PSG are crowned 'champions' after Barcelona (the only team that could catch them) got brutally demolished 4-0 by a clearly superior team at Wembley. I would be bragging about how they should just cancel the Premier League season now to spare everyone else the humiliation, but less than 24 hours later Liverpool played Mainz and lost by the same scoreline ...
An interesting thing to note from the standings is how even more shoddily-run the other two sections were. Apparently Atletico Madrid played Melbourne Victory before leaving Australia and lost 1-0, but for some reason it's not been counted in the standings and Juventus are considered champions despite playing a game more than those two (Tottenham finish last despite having the same advantage).
Especially unusual considering the China edition cancelled crowning a winner because one game got called off. Conspiracy to ensure that tiny Melbourne Victory don't show up their more prestigious guests in the history books, terrible organising, or both?
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

August 7th, 2016, 7:55 pm #9

They should just rename all this the Cynical Marketing Goblet of Cash.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

March 25th, 2017, 6:05 pm #10

So the details for the next season of the


Cynical Marketing Goblet of Cash (I still prefer Blobfish Cup but same effect I guess) have been announced, the absolute state of this.
The big highlight of course is that Barcelona will play Real Madrid in the "Miami Clasico", and while I know supply and demand is a thing, looking at this ticket pricing, if they get a capacity crowd it will be full of 65,000 mugs, should help to fill the goblet at least. Really putting the American fans of those clubs between a rock and a hard place...
Not to mention that including that one they have at least 4 'big rivalry' games going on, gives me the impression that they're getting desperate regarding my earlier points on this topic. An interesting subplot is that they've scheduled this at the same time that the knockout rounds of this year's CONCACAF Gold Cup are going on, hopefully international football can come out of this clash on top but it's not a battle they should ever have to be fighting to begin with.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

March 25th, 2017, 9:57 pm #11

> "the International Champions Cup does not just borrow from history — it makes history."

Wow. Trump's speechwriter has met his match for vacuity.

> "Paris Saint-Germain F.C. vs. Tottenham Hotspur F.C. – Camping World Stadium; Orlando, Florida"

All the seats in the stadium look like this:



On your last point, there did used to be a rule about preventing simultaneous distraction games during a major tournament. Although I suppose CONCACAF would have the power to block these friendlies, in principle, it would be quite hypocritical of them to block anybody else cashing in on the US market.

What I would naively hope is that Americans, who have a reputation for being in no way gullible hype-suckers, will prefer to stay away from the Bed Bath and Beyond Megadome and instead go away and think about what they've done.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

March 26th, 2017, 5:46 pm #12

nfm24 wrote:
On your last point, there did used to be a rule about preventing simultaneous distraction games during a major tournament. Although I suppose CONCACAF would have the power to block these friendlies, in principle, it would be quite hypocritical of them to block anybody else cashing in on the US market.
Also the absolute outrage that the big clubs would whip up for CONCACAF daring to stop them making money playing their highly-competitive and completely relevant competition. Would no doubt bring up CONCACAF's recent controversies to push the public onto their side of the argument.
But if that rule does still exist, I'd love to see some extreme usage of it just for the laughs. The absolute scenes when the UEFA Champions League final gets rescheduled because it clashes with the OFC Nations Cup...
nfm24 wrote:
What I would naively hope is that Americans, who have a reputation for
being in no way gullible hype-suckers, will prefer to stay away from the
Bed Bath and Beyond Megadome and instead go away and think about what
they've done.
It would take something huge to stop Americans from being the world's biggest gullible hype-suckers, but the point about attendances I made before suggests maybe they're starting to come round in this case. Only games involving Real Madrid or Barcelona (and one which was the first event of a new stadium) managed to sell out last year, the numbers are still look impressive but the view on TV doesn't. That's why I think having so many rivalry games is a bit of desperation, but if their less attractive games that still feature huge clubs can get a half-empty stadium, no reason why they won't get fed up eventually of being ripped off in return for some watered down version of a big derby...
nfm24 wrote:
> "the International Champions Cup does not just borrow from history — it makes history."

Wow. Trump's speechwriter has met his match for vacuity.
Some of my favourites:
  • "Some of these rivalries have lasted for almost the entire history of the game, but one of the beauties of the International Champions Cup has been its ambitious ability to respond to some of the recent rising powers who are rewriting the story of global football and instituting rivalries for a new era."
  • "Since 2013, the annual International Champions Cup presented by Heineken has swiftly become an institution in the global football calendar"
  • "And if that particular line up sounds familiar, it’s a rematch of this
    year’s Champions League quarter final — so at least one of these great
    clubs will be looking to swiftly avenge a painful defeat in continental
    competition."
  • "After all, the game keeps changing, so why not change the game?"
Also saw in a different article that they announced Singapore as "the exclusive ICC destination for South-East Asia for the next 4 seasons", or something to that effect. Give over.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

March 26th, 2017, 8:20 pm #13

This gives us an idea what things would be like if Americans ran FIFA.

Regarding OFC during ECL, I think the rule was restricted to the same continent or country.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

March 27th, 2017, 2:04 pm #14

nfm24 wrote:
This gives us an idea what things would be like if Americans ran FIFA.
Which explains the raids on Zurich I guess... although does Trump care enough to follow through?
I seriously trust FIFA way more with running global football than if it was officially ran by the big clubs, though.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

March 27th, 2017, 9:30 pm #15

Trust is not the word I would have used but I agree with the point. Still, that doesn't give FIFA an excuse to be corrupt and incompetent.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

March 29th, 2017, 2:09 pm #16

nfm24 wrote:
Trust is not the word I would have used
It's relative. What they have been found guilty of is inexcusable but in the middle of it (whether intentional or not) all they did do more than anyone to at least push back against the demands of the biggest/richest clubs (and nations) so they've earned trust on that front.
Even Platini has to be commended for that, it didn't slip my attention that those changes to the Champions League format were announced a few months after his suspension, and confirmed not long before his official successor (who also seems to be pro-smaller clubs) was voted in, looks like the ECA went at that interim regime like vultures...
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

April 4th, 2017, 3:03 pm #17

He's moving his lips but all I keep hearing is blob blob blob (or whatever noise a blobfish makes)...
To be honest I'm not 100% against the idea itself (but still not a fan), leagues have brought in tweaks to the mainstream idea of a league before after all, but sometimes you have to see the company the idea is keeping. And ironically by advocating fully-competitive league games to be played on foreign soil, he's potentially damaging any appeal his International Champions Cup has...
Also the Scottish Premiership might beat the Premier League to it.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

April 10th, 2017, 7:03 pm #18

Why not just play all EPL matches overseas?
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

July 2nd, 2017, 4:12 pm #19

mattsanger92 wrote:
So the details for the next season of the


Cynical Marketing Goblet of Cash (I still prefer Blobfish Cup but same effect I guess) have been announced, the absolute state of this.
The big highlight of course is that Barcelona will play Real Madrid in the "Miami Clasico", and while I know supply and demand is a thing, looking at this ticket pricing, if they get a capacity crowd it will be full of 65,000 mugs, should help to fill the goblet at least. Really putting the American fans of those clubs between a rock and a hard place...
So they beat the Champions League final in terms of being more expensive, and now the Miami Clasico also wins in terms of their bloated set of associated events the week beforehand. Good grief.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

July 12th, 2017, 9:34 am #20

And while the hype machine regarding that game continues to go into overdrive (the state of this ), the fairly predictable news comes out today that Him will not be playing.
Considering he's probably been (and most likely will continue to be) used heavily in the promotional material, there should end up being a number of disappointed mugs on the day... but I can't say I'd have much sympathy in that instance.
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Joined: November 3rd, 2006, 11:49 am

July 12th, 2017, 1:00 pm #21

I understand him completely; he played a very long season and he played the Confederations cup (most German stars were to tired.....and all the rest was on the beach)
even HE has to rest some days per year....
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

July 12th, 2017, 2:14 pm #22

I hate club football. It's rubbish.
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Joined: November 3rd, 2006, 11:49 am

July 12th, 2017, 2:34 pm #23

club football is necessary to make players for national teams....  and I prefer lower division club football , there is a chance you find the real spirit of the game...
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

July 21st, 2017, 4:19 am #24

mattsanger92 wrote:
Not to mention that including that one they have at least 4 'big rivalry' games going on, gives me the impression that they're getting desperate regarding my earlier points on this topic. An interesting subplot is that they've scheduled this at the same time that the knockout rounds of this year's CONCACAF Gold Cup are going on, hopefully international football can come out of this clash on top but it's not a battle they should ever have to be fighting to begin with.
And the clash happened, and if internet discussion is anything to go by, one game was about 3-5 times bigger than the other, depending on how you measure it. For shame, casual football fans, for shame:
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

July 21st, 2017, 11:48 am #25

If those figures are from an Anglophone forum, rather than an Hispanophone one, they may be biased ;-)
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

July 24th, 2017, 8:35 am #26

Fair play to the organisers of the Cynical Marketing Goblet of Cash presented by Blobfish, looks like they're becoming self-aware. Obviously must have just misheard someone saying 'Mickey Mouse Cup' but they're on the right track at least :

Second observation: this stadium is being for a more important event (the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final) in 2 days' time. Aside from that in itself being undenimining (I know what I said) to the latter, it's a continuation of that unofficial popularity contest which shouldn't even exist, and it's taking a much more direct form. Score to beat is apparently 65,109 in a 68,500-capacity stadium, failure from the Gold Cup crowd to achieve this (with the host nation playing in a Final to boot[cut]), even on a weeknight, will see me probably shed a tear...
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

July 24th, 2017, 7:20 pm #27

I think football in the States has gone full circle, and it was actually Diana Ross in the Ronald McDonald suit. Naturally the Hamburglar would be more appropriate.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

July 27th, 2017, 10:45 am #28

mattsanger92 wrote: Second observation: this stadium is being for a more important event (the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final) in 2 days' time... Score to beat is apparently 65,109 in a 68,500-capacity stadium, failure from the Gold Cup crowd to achieve this (with the host nation playing in a Final to boot[cut]), even on a weeknight, will see me probably shed a tear...
I must regrettably announce that the Gold Cup Final only got an attendance of 63,032, too tired to cry (so I'll just test out these new emojis like so 😢).

Admittedly it was still on a weeknight in a stadium a bit out the way of the major city nearby, so it's not such a devastating blow but still... 🖕🇺🇸, get your priorities right.
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Joined: January 20th, 2009, 11:52 pm

July 29th, 2017, 9:49 am #29

All this time I've thought his name was Matt Sanger. Little did I realise, it was actually Matt's Anger.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

July 29th, 2017, 12:45 pm #30

Ha, I just have access to a wider range of emojis now that get the point across a bit quicker.

I still think of myself as calm and laid back compared to most people, just the above is a sad situation more than anything else. It's a useful username to have though...
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

August 5th, 2017, 9:21 am #31

Just got back from a few days in Munich to watch the Audi Cup.

Could be seen as a tad hypocritical, but I thought it was a pre-season event done right. Didn't overstay its welcome, didn't try to overstate its importance (there was a whole ceremony thing before each game which was a bit much but I'll let that one slide), and despite all the obvious branding was somehow done much more tastefully than things like the "Ronald incident". Also I spent way less than $10,000 for the whole trip which is the most important point really when considering the rest.

Bonus present: a Miami Herald article on the "Miami Clasico" for anyone to dissect shoud they wish. Considering Mr. CR7 was confirmed to not be attending several weeks in advance, not sure why they describe the situation as Him 'stringing along' the fans when any belief that he might still be there was generated by the cynical marketing goblet folk. Don't know why they were comparing it to the situation of Mr. N€222Mar in any case.
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Joined: April 5th, 2012, 10:54 am

August 6th, 2017, 5:02 pm #32

mattsanger92 wrote:(there was a whole ceremony thing before each game which was a bit much but I'll let that one slide)
I'm not being funny, but when was the last time someone sat down to watch the football and went "Oh brilliant, some dancing"?
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

August 6th, 2017, 6:38 pm #33

Kaizeler wrote: I'm not being funny, but when was the last time someone sat down to watch the football and went "Oh brilliant, some dancing"?
I'd hazard a guess that it's the same type of people (should any exist) who were pushed over the edge to buy a ridiculously-priced "Miami Clasico" ticket because Marc Anthony was the half-time show.

By the way, the company that the sketch mocks did originally dabble with the idea of cheerleaders on their coverage, I'm guessing it didn't last long because of exactly that mindset from the fans.

Personally I don't mind it on the massive condition that it's a) only used for major events, and b) the act itself is enough of an impressive show to match the occasion. So Tournament Opening/Closing Ceremonies, other Tournament Matches, and other International Matches tied with major club finals, in that order of acceptability, the Audi Cup doesn't but because of the low-ish price to get in I was more relaxed about it. (Also note how many props and/or special effects needed to be used in most of those examples, almost as though that's the show rather than the dancers... 🤔)

I've been to a few games of my local 3rd-tier club who have an official cheerleader troupe (?) and a performance like theirs can get up eh road.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

August 8th, 2017, 8:46 am #34

mattsanger92 wrote:I'm not being funny, but when was the last time someone sat down to watch the football and went "Oh brilliant, some dancing"?
Possibly Italia 90 when Roger Milla scored.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

August 8th, 2017, 9:42 am #35

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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

August 8th, 2017, 2:25 pm #36

Particularly strong midfield covering back from Rafa Marquez in that clip. 
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

March 8th, 2018, 8:00 pm #37

11 July 1973:
London, Tue - an All-Star team of British footballers, including several international players, was leaving here today by air for Sudan to play matches there and in Saudi Arabia.  On Wed the British team meet Mereikh, Sudan's leading club, in the Omdurman Sports Stadium, and on Friday they play the Saudi national team Al-Ahli in Jeddah.  The goodwill trip was organised by Claud Morris, a Welsh publisher who is a personal friend of President Numeiry of Sudan.  The proceeds from the matches will be shared between local sports funds and the Duke of Edinburgh's playing fields fund.

Anybody know what team this was?   I thought it sounded like Middlesex Wanderers but maybe not.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

April 12th, 2018, 1:05 pm #38

The Cynical Marketing Goblet of Cash is now an equal-opportunities faff.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

April 12th, 2018, 4:42 pm #39

Well that's a positive development - maybe they can pursue the patented nfm24 mixed men/women tournament, with one leg of each gender for each match-up.

Or perhaps the organisers have just observed that women and girls buy soft drinks and popcorn too.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

April 12th, 2018, 5:18 pm #40

I've had similarly (non-patented) ideas in the past - mainly revolving around football variants, so two teams play all legs but the scores carry over across regular football, futsal, beach, swamp, underwater, blind, etc. etc..

Either that or some countries or multi-sport clubs that dabble in a number of these (think Barcelona or Sporting Lisbon) send their teams in each sport to play a game, either progressively for drama or simultaneously for drama and chaos.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

April 12th, 2018, 5:43 pm #41

Let's call it the Disastrous Administrative Balls-Up Superleague.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

April 12th, 2018, 5:44 pm #42

nfm24 wrote:Or perhaps the organisers have just observed that women and girls buy soft drinks and popcorn too.
Ronald doesn't see gender.

This is the stadium they'll be using for the women's games according to the article, seems a tad overambitious especially combined with American prices. If the deciding match of the SheBelieves Cup can't even half-fill an MLS stadium in a similar neck of the woods, the blobfish's marketing machine's going to need multiple overoverdrives to get pre-season between PSG and North Carolina Courage to sell out...
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

April 12th, 2018, 5:50 pm #43

How come PSG gets abbreviated, but North Carolina Courage doesn't?
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

April 12th, 2018, 5:59 pm #44

Avoiding excessive block text, plus most people would know what PSG is especially in this context, unless the Portland South Gardeners are a thing.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

April 12th, 2018, 7:54 pm #45

At least there are no mini club badge icons...
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Joined: April 5th, 2012, 10:54 am

April 13th, 2018, 2:15 am #46

😙 Did anyone see 's impressive comeback against  on Tuesday? I think only can stop them now.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

April 13th, 2018, 3:58 am #47

And ironically enough, I never really liked those weird Italian Wikipedia club 'flags'...
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Joined: April 5th, 2012, 10:54 am

April 13th, 2018, 4:49 am #48

Don't badmouth flags, that's how you build empires.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

April 13th, 2018, 7:34 pm #49

The way to build empires is to impose your way of life upon others.  Despite this, I have somehow resisted the impulse to disable flags and emojis in general.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

April 18th, 2018, 10:55 am #50

Now there's a "European Super League" dry run if I ever saw one...
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