PHUKET: By the time Newcastle United kick off their Premier League campaign at home to champions Manchester City in little less than a month’s time the squad would have clocked up an astonishing 24,687 pre-season air miles.
Globe-trotting West Ham United will not be far behind while five other clubs would have covered distances in excess of 12,000 miles as they take their brands to far-flung destinations.
Gone are the days, it seems, when a few trips up and down the English motorways was as adventurous as it got for many of the clubs in the top tier of English football.
Whereas games against lower league clubs in England were once the norm, matches that provided much-needed gate receipts for the country’s lesser lights, now it is all about the elite maximising revenue and trying to sell more shirts in south east Asia, Australasia and north America.
According to figures widely reported in British media this week, the 20 clubs in the Premier League will travel a combined 175,000 air miles in the weeks leading up to kickoff on August 16.
Newcastle are currently in New Zealand – a tour that made headlines in Britain after two of the club’s fans were among the victims of the Malaysian Airlines disaster as they made their way to support their team.
West Ham also travelled to New Zealand.
Long-haul tours may please the club’s marketing departments, but managers are not always so keen.
New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal earlier on Wednesday sounded less than enthused by his club’s commitments which begin against LA Galaxy in Pasadena and then continue with at least three more matches in Denver, Washington and Detroit as part of the International Champions Cup.
“We have to prepare the season and when you have commercial activities and dreadful distances, having to fly a lot and the jet lag, it is not very positive for a good preparation,” he told British media.
Should United reach the final to be played in Miami they will return home with 13,478 miles on the clock.
Some clubs, however, have travelled less this year.
Arsenal, who play in New York, will fly 6,930 miles compared to the 19,626 they amassed before last season during a pre-season trip which included Vietnam, Indonesia and Japan.
Liverpool have also scaled back, with the eastern seaboard of the U.S. their furthest venture this year, compared to Indonesia, Australia, Thailand and Norway this time last year.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea will stay in Europe after last pre-season’s world tour, playing RZ Pellets in Austria on Wednesday. They will also go to Slovenia, Germany and Hungary.
However, the majority of players in the Premier League will have spent many hours at 36,000 feet by the end of the English summer, with even newcomers Leicester City getting in on the act with an 11,898 round trip to Bangkok.
Last season Leicester visited less exotic locations such as York, Leamington and Northampton.
Hull City are the one team to buck the trend.
The Europa League qualifiers have satisfied themselves with friendly matches against domestic opposition beginning with a match at North Ferriby, 9.7 miles down the Humber Estuary.
— Phuket Gazette Editors
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