While Chelsea continue to break into the American market, perhaps trying to capitalise on the current Beckham hype stateside, Manchester United have decided to stick with Asia and Africa.
Chelsea have just concluded a pre season tour of America, a tour that included David Beckhams LA Galaxy debut, all 12 minutes of it, and Chelsea Soccer Hollywood party, attended by the likes of Paris Hilton, Tara Reed and Chelsea fan Johny Lee Miller. Amongst all the glitz and glamour Chelsea were there, as they have been before, to try to get a foot hole in the emerging American market, a commercial aspect that has attracted almost all the big European teams over the last few seasons. This season alone will see Milan, Sevilla, Aston Villa and Celtic join Chelsea in America. The difficulty arises here in that this is an emerging market, and not one that is guaranteed to be successful. Americans by in large will support there own. David Beckham will sell more LA Galaxy shirts in America then he did as a Manchester United and Real Madrid player. While soccer may be the global game, it ranks along way behind American Football, Basketball, Hockey, Golf and Indy Car in America, and while the ever increasing Central and South American influence in America may help to increase the support base in the MSL and soccer as a whole in the country, the task of substantial commercial success in America, that many clubs are anticipating, will prove harder then they think.
In contrast there is already a fanatical fan base for English football in Asia and Africa, continents where support for an English team rivals that of a local team. The wealth of America may not be available in Africa, but the love of soccer is greater than anywhere else in the world, and with the World Cup finally coming to Africa in 2010, African exposure will only increase. The market was already there, but with teams like Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs taking pre season tours in Africa and Asia, the support for them will expand to an ever growing sector. United were in South Africa last year, in Asia this year, and will be back in South Africa in 2008. They have recognised the fanaticism of the fans in these countries and rather then committing to purely commercial ventures, have opted to cater to their fan base.
While there are merits to trying to crack the American market, a team like Chelsea, with so many African stars, Drogba, Kalou, Essien and Mikel, would have more success trying to sell brand Chelsea to an African market. Unfortunately its sometimes cents that speaks louder than sense.