Football Trade Directory

Manchester United: high profile friendlies could help fill the coffers, but will they help United in the Premier League?

Manchester United will be feeling their absence from the Champions League again this evening as their rivals gear up for another round of fixtures against Europe's elite.

Whilst their bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester City face the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, United fans are coming to terms with not being in a competition in which they reached three finals in four years between 2008-11.

And whilst the fans might choose to take the dog for a walk or even watch ties that don't include their Premier League cohorts, the club is looking at ways they can fill the hole left by their 7th placed finish last season.

And one idea that is being considered is to hold midweek friendlies, giving the players a chance to get a run out, and their fans from home and abroad an extra chance to see their 'Gaalacticos' in action.

United's Richard Arnold has admitted the idea is something they would be open to, whilst also stating that manager Loius Van Gaal could be 'supportive' of the idea.

And for a club that accounts for 11% of Europe's football sponsorship revenue, a sponsorship report today revealed, the idea of replacing the estimated £40m in revenue lost from Champions League football with potentially even more lucrative friendlies, could be a shrewd one indeed.

Their pre season tours, which have taken them all over the world in recent years, have brought lucrative sponsorship deals with regional companies looking to use United's rising brand. Their dominance of the Asian market in particular has seen other Premier League clubs trying to play catch up over the last couple of years.

The furore created by the idea of United playing twice a month in Asia would allow them to corner the market even more whilst their rivals were busy with competitive matches.

A good idea in theory, but would that be the reality, when the simple logistics of the idea are potentially problematic?

Firstly, who will they play? If they do indeed go abroad then they might choose to play domestic sides or best XIs from whichever country they're visiting, which would still be a draw for local fans, but what they really want to see is United going up against a fellow Premier League or European giant.

Their last pre season in the US tour saw them face off against domestic rivals and European champions Real Madrid, a game attended by 100,000 fans.

But teams of that calibre will be in short supply until the business end of the season when they Champions League knock out stages begin, and whether after playing a dozen matches more than United they would want to take part seems unlikely.

Secondly, the one positive spin that United fans have been able to put on the lack of European football is that they will be able to concetrate on the Premier League, whilst their rivals fight on several fronts.

City, Chelsea and Liverpool are all still in the League Cup, which United were unceremoniously dumped out of 4-0 by League One MK Dons, and will no doubt be looking at the latter stages of the FA Cup later on this season.

United need, as Liverpool did last season, to use their comparative lack of fixtures to their advantage, to ensure that they at least get back to top four this year.

Arnold implied that Van Gaal would be receptive to the idea, but with the concerns he has over his side, his back line in particular, would flying half way round the world be more beneficial than two days on the training pitch?

Added to that the usual potential for injuries that any game entails, and the idea of a 'mid week friendly' could be seen in an unfriendly manner by the club's coaches and players.

For a side who hasn't missed the Champions League for best part of the last two decades, it's understandable that they'd want to try and fill the gap both on the pitch and in the boardroom.

But is the need to fill a one year gap worth potentially risking the gap without European football growing even bigger?


Posted on