Arsenal's tour to Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam "is more significant for the club and football's new breed of business-focused executives than for the fans," according to Ben Bland of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Several top EPL sides "are embarking on their biggest ever preseason tours of Asia as they seek alternative revenue streams and commercial deals in what many believe is an under-exploited market." Arsenal "last visited Indonesia" in '83. Fellow Premier League sides Chelsea and Liverpool "are playing exhibition matches in the country for the first time during this summer's off-season," while ManU -- a pioneer in organizing tours of Asia -- is visiting Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand. For more than a decade, "English football clubs have talked up the potential of the vast Asian market." But it is only in the last couple of years that they "have started to take the market seriously and begun to reap the potentially rich rewards." Coventry University professor of sports business Simon Chadwick said, "Up until five years ago, the interest in Asia was fairly superficial. But much has changed since then and now we're approaching a tipping point" (FT, 7/12).
GLOBAL GAME: In London, Ian Herbert wrote as the top EPL clubs "begin their July exodus into Asia, on tour, they take with them commercial staff who will be involved in a blizzard of activity to ring up the revenues from what are effectively licensing agreements: permission to use the club’s name, which the leading sports business commentator Richard Gillis compares to the way the Olympics and World Cup sell their names." This "is a land grab for the Asian market and United are masters at it." ManU added leading Japan social gaming group Gloops to its sponsorship roster this summer, along with a Mexican bank and an Indonesian financial services outfit: just "three more names for a colourful list of around 40 firms, including an official tyre partner in Indonesia, a soft drinks partner in China, a paint partner, a motorcycle partner in Thailand and more." ManU was "the first to identify that some of these deals could be global and some regional, like the Thai and Indonesian ones, says Gillis, who writes on these subjects at a great site -- unofficialpartner.co.uk." ManU has been "miles ahead of the rest with their commercial mode" (INDEPENDENT, 7/12).