Premier League games abroad – the right answer will only ever be “NO”

Integrity of the league

The biggest argument against a 39th game or having matches abroad is it damages the integrity of the league.

A league concept is simple. 19 home games. 19 away games. Fair and simple for all.

Now once you start taking one of those games abroad, you create a league where everything is not equal.

Lets look at Brighton v Arsenal as an example.

Since returning to the Premier League, Brighton’s record at home to Arsenal reads: P 4 W 2 D 1 L 1. It is a decent record.

Now let’s say that game is taken abroad to New York.

Suddenly it goes from a home game that Brighton have a very good record in, to an away game where 95% of fans in the stadium will be supporting Arsenal. This is clearly unfair.

It would also mean that Brighton end up playing 20 away games and 18 home games in their season.

If they get relegated by a single point, with the team finishing 17th playing 19 home and 19 away (as they were supposed to be away for their game abroad), how is this fair?

Fans abroad deserve a chance to see proper games

No one is stopping them “seeing proper games”.

They can get a membership, buy a ticket, book a hotel, jump on a flight and visit London.

“But they might not be able to afford that”.

Well life is not fair. There are mans fans that live in Islington, on the Cally or Packington Estates, that can not afford to go to games.

No one has a good given right to something.

Whether it is owning your own home, having a nice car, going abroad on holidays. Life is littered with examples of those that can afford to do certain things and those that can not.

It is their choice to have started to support a club hundreds or thousands of miles away. They decided to support Arsenal, Liverpool or Manchester United over a local team.

And ultimately, overseas fans can go to see proper games. They could rock up at their local club. Pay their Bhat, Dollar or Lira and watch a proper game.

Do overseas fans want it?

The Premier League is hugely popular across the globe. But it is a global fan base.

Just because they introduce games abroad, does not mean games will go to your country or even region.

So a fan in Delhi might still never get to see an Arsenal game if Arsenal are never scheduled to play in the city.

Even if the Arsenal game is scheduled in Mumbai – that is 1415km away. They are still unlikely to go.

It is going to have to have so many stars align for the club you support to be playing in your region.

And what games do they want?

Manchester United v Arsenal sells out no matter what city it is in.

But does Burnley v Norwich City?

Because if games are going abroad, it can not just be 1 or 2 games, it will have to be a whole round of games.

Would there really be a demand for 2 smaller clubs playing each other?

On Monday it was the A23 Derby as Crystal Palace faced Brighton. It is the biggest game of the season for both teams. But there would be zero interest from fans abroad.

Neither club has a particularly big global fan base. The game would barely sell out a small stadium abroad.

So you end up having to split up the “big 6” and ensuring that they are perhaps playing the 6 smallest clubs in the league to ensure games sell out.

But then that does not really have the huge draw does it?

If having games abroad is to generate income, then you would want the biggest teams playing each other in the biggest stadiums.

You want Manchester United v Arsenal, not Arsenal v Burnley.

In conclusion

Overseas games is not a new concept. It has been floated around for the last 30 years. There are reasons why they have not happened. The majority of which are detailed here.

If clubs want to continue growing their overseas fan base, they do so through working with overseas supporters clubs.

So many oversees supporters clubs already do a great job bringing fans together. Creating their own experience.

Clubs need to promote and support these groups to ensure they keep doing it. Advertising what they are doing to reach more fans. Set up similar initatives in regions where it is not currently happen.

Help local supporters clubs create a unique experience for fans in New York, Lagos or Sydney. One they can experience every single game rather than take a “roadshow” to their city once every 10 years or so…

A lot can be done to ensure clubs build links with overseas fans and continue to spread the message. Taking “proper games” abroad will only do more damage to the relationships with local fans. And does not really solve anything.

Keenos

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