Friday, July 10, 2015


EPL Visits Need To Add To Local Football, Not Ignore It

It's that time of the year folks. You know the one when them rich English clubs decide to travel halfway round the world to connect with their fans in distant shores, but not Laos or Cambodia as veteran coach Steve Darby pointed out on Twitter. Just the ones where the average salary is enough to indulge in buying overpriced sandwich boards made out of recycled plastic water bottles.

Fans turn up at the airport clad in their regulation replica gear, not all of which is the real deal, they camp outside the hotel, they turn up at the training session and of course they buy a ticket to watch their half fit heroes plod around for 45 minutes before giving way to some unknown reserve who won his seat on the trip through a lucky draw.

The clubs then leave a couple of days later with coffers full, effusively thanking everyone for being so wonderful and counting the credits on the PR balance sheet.

Once upon a time the clubs at least paid lip service to supporting football in the host country; they don't even do that anymore. Now the trips are little more than a smash and grab raid designed to inspire a million selfies and bore the pants off the rest of us who take more than a passing interest in the local football scene.

Look what's coming up over the next few days in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

14/07 - Thai All Stars v Liverpool
15/07 - Everton v Stoke, Singapore Select v Arsenal
18/07 - Everton/Stoke v Singapore Select/Arsenal
24/07 - Malaysia XI v Liverpool

Liverpool's visit to Malaysia is already the target of supporters who are protesting at the way that game and another played earlier against Spurs which were allowed to disrupt the local programme for the benefit of no one apart from a few suits.

You know what would be nice? It would be nice if the domestic football associations grew some balls and told these premier league clubs 'yeah, you come come and play a game or two here but you do it on our terms or not at all. We ain't bending over backwards any more...'

And what would those terms be? Well, for a start there must be some benefit for the local game. So why not have a local game played on the same day at the same stadium? For example when Liverpool are in Bangkok why not have Bangkok United play a Thai Premier League game? Bangkok United because they are sponsored by the people who are sponsoring the all stars.

There is in fact a full round of TPL fixtures set for the day after the Liverpool game with Bangkok United's postponed. Why not have them play and create a meaningful double header? Of course there is the small issue of the Bangkok United players called up for the select squad but these select things are a crock of crap anyway. The Thai FA's priority is the local game, not appeasing some second rate English side.

Surely it cannot be beyond the whit of these people to try and do something where they put the interests of the game they are charged with developing first...And if they moan about the fixtures? Nah, they don't do irony!

Singapore? Again, forget those bloody stupid select sides. Get two SLeague sides to enter and have them play each other on the first day as a normal SLeague fixture. Only with fans.

By playing a competitive game FAs would be being seen to do something about the domestic game, piggy backing it on the back of a highly publicised visit from highly paid players who could be photoed watching the game, complete with oversized headphones of course before giving quotes like 'I was surprised by the standard...'

As things stand these tours totally overlook, nay ignore, the local game. It is seen as an embarrassment to be shunted out of sight while the big boys are in town. Change the mindset. Promote the local game and use the big boys to help achieve that aim.

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