Shanghai Shenhua fans called on all Shenhua fans to boycott the Wednesday night friendly with Manchester United. An online campaign by Shanghai supporters stated “ If you are a real Shenhua supporter, cancel any plan you have to attend this game.
“ Let the sponsors see that this game, which reeks of business and money, should not be scheduled in the middle of our league season.”
The result? 30,000 attend the match at Shanghai’s 33,060 capacity stadium, Hongkou Football Stadium. So much for that then.
Shanghai's fans were furious that the club were to face one of the most famous clubs in the world right in the middle of their league season. One wise fan said “ I don't think Manchester United would agree to play Shenhua in the middle of the English Premier League – So neither should we.”
Fair point. However, clubs have demonstrated time and again that they don't care about the fans. It's true. No amount of boycotting matches will stop clubs from playing lucrative 'Pre season' friendlies against clubs in the middle of their domestic leagues. Well, maybe if NO one turned up but that will never happen.
No amount of 'we are playing these matches for our global fans' will change my view. The Asian and USA markets have long been sought after for to do with clubs around the world. The money to be made from playing these exhibition matches far outweighs what is best for the players and fans.
Clubs target regions such as Asia to attract new sponsors and expand it's global appeal. They also do so to keep up with each other. Arsene Wenger reluctantly agreed to a pre season tour of Asia in 2011 after years of refusing to play the commercial game. He called it a “compromise.”
The commercial aspect of Premier League clubs playing these essentially meaningless matches means that the clubs are not only having to complete on the field but they must fight for their share of these global markets too.
You only have to see ESPN's coverage of Liverpool's and Chelsea's USA tour to see how much our game has changed. I remember a time when it was neigh on impossible to find our your clubs pre season results unless you went to the game or knew someone that went. Now you can watch them live at 2.30 in the morning,
All 20 premier league clubs have travelled aboard for pre season matches, eclipsing last season’s total of 18.
Okay, maybe I am being pedantic. Or a sceptic. But I am a fan of football. And find it increasing hard to see money ruining our game.