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Jul 31 16 6:42 PM

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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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#1 [url]

Jul 31 16 6:50 PM

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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#3 [url]

Aug 1 16 12:50 AM

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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#4 [url]

Aug 1 16 7:41 PM

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 smiley: laugh...

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#5 [url]

Aug 1 16 8:08 PM

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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#6 [url]

Aug 1 16 8:13 PM

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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#7 [url]

Aug 7 16 6:50 PM

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 smiley: ohwell...

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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#9 [url]

Mar 25 17 10:05 PM

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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#10 [url]

Mar 26 17 1:57 AM

> "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:

image

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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#11 [url]

Mar 26 17 9:46 PM

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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#12 [url]

Mar 27 17 12:20 AM

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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#13 [url]

Mar 27 17 6:04 PM

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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#15 [url]

Mar 29 17 6:09 PM

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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#16 [url]

Apr 4 17 7:03 PM

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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#17 [url]

Apr 10 17 11:03 PM

Why not just play all EPL matches overseas?

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