Friday, 1 August 2008

PreSeason Tournaments: Pointless?

As the new season draws ever closer we are now right in the midst of preseason friendlies, perhaps one of the most frustrating times in the football calendar. We have all learnt to acccept that over the summer life surrounding football becomes fairly dull, with only transfers to look out for. However once the players start to get back into training the excitement begins to build. As always every club arranges a series of preseason matches which to me feel like pulling teeth.

In all my years watching football I have never seen a preseason match that has stuck in my mind. Without exception they are nearly always slow and passionless affairs, where goals are celebrated like runs are in cricket with a polite round of applause. Now I do realise that these games are only to get the players up to match fitness and that the result doesn’t matter. However if this were the case then why has everyone started to take part in these preseason tournaments?

Everyone seems to be involved with one and they are given a pretty big amount of media coverage considering that the whole thing isn’t supposed to matter. In the grand scheme of things they don’t matter but then why have them? Why don’t the clubs involved just arrange a couple of extra games? The tournaments matches themselves are always like any other preseason games, slow and forgettable. Just last week I covered Cardiff V Celtic in the Algarve Cup where it looked as though both teams would have rather been on the beach than on the football pitch.

Who could blame them to be fair though, but the supporters realise this and as such the stadiums where these matches are played normally seem to be 75% empty. The only preseason tournament that I know will be a success this year is the Emirates Cup hosted by Arsenal. Both days of this tournament have sold out but that is only because the Gunners will be facing Real Madrid and Juventus, two of European footballs most successful clubs with former European Cup winners Hamburg thrown into the mix as well. Have a look at the pre-season football odds here.

With names like that taking part it is no wonder that the Emirates Cup is a success, although the Amsterdam tournament includes some major names in Sevilla, Arsenal, Inter Milan and Ajax but every time I watch that competition the stadium seems half empty. The whole thing is a bit of a rip-off if you ask me, the promoters always advertise the big names and yet they either player a very small part in the whole thing or don’t show up at all. Now if I had paid out £40 to watch Real Madrid play I would be a little annoyed if it turned out to be the Madrid under 16s.

Even when the big names do turn out they are never going to be at their sparkling best, who would having just spent the last month doing very little, probably trying to forget about football for a while. Preseason tournaments are very much a con in my eyes, much like preseason matches as a whole. Don’t get me wrong preseason games are beneficial for smaller clubs when they attract one of the Premier League big boys, which is the way it should be with larger clubs being able to go to smaller ones and give their funds a much needed boost.

However that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore with clubs preferring to take money spinning tours of Europe, America and the Far East. So in essence the Premier League has found a way of screwing over the Football League clubs before the season has even started. You could see it as another way of squeezing a few pennies from the wallets of the faithful football fans. Going back to the Algarve Cup I did notice there were a number of Cardiff fans in the crowd, who you would have hoped won’t have just made the trip to Portugal for the tournament. Doing a quick bit of research using Expedia I can tell you that the cheapest flight and accommodation package to the Algarve is £385 per person.

I think you will agree that if you were determined to follow your club over land and sea then preseason could be the most expensive time of the year for travelling fans. I imagine that many of you would have already realised the pointless nature of preseason tournaments and the only advice you can take is grin and bear it until the real football starts again. Take a look at the new seasons odds here.

Chris Rivers

1 comment:

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