Manchester Bankrupt go to South Africa. Now they are looking at India to spread their evil message. Where the Bankrupts go, so go CSKA. Spread the word, sell the t-shirt, get an audience.
The whole approach was probably started by Real Mad, at least that’s the first big attempt to grab an audience by artificial means – Real Mad making a big play in the north African territories.
So as the big boys (sometimes followed by little Liverpool Weetabix) trot the globe Arsenal go to… Barnet and a second division team in Hungary. Why?
First big reason is because Wenger says so, and that says something remarkable. We all think that Sir Alex F-word is top dog, but only up to a point. He has to do the world tour, no matter how much it exhausts his troops because of the desperate need for money (not least to pay the Moscow bus company – see earlier report).
Second reason, Arsenal need to bring the kids through. That Jack Cornwall (Wiltshire? Somerset, something like that) isn’t going to get 75% of a game if we go and play the top team in China or somewhere – they will demand to see the big names and big players. And what about Francis Coquelin. Aged 17 from SASP Stade Lavallois Mayeene MFC of whom you have never heard (and nor had I) he looked amazingly sharp in the game this week. How would he fit in and get experience if we were playing for money?
Third, the strategy of money grabbing in foreign parts is not a guaranteed success. Shirt sales in many third world countries (not to mention Italy) is a counterfeit business, and TV sales are often related to the whole league not an individual club. Worse there is no guarantee that the whole thing will bloom. Football in China looked set for the big time, but then it collapsed among allegations of match fixing, and interest is not shooing up to the skies as was predicted.
So doing it the Arsenal way is not quite as goofy as it seems. The players are better prepared for the season, the youngsters like Coquelin come out of nowhere and show us just how good they are, and the strategy might not be all it is cracked up to be.
Plus there’s the politics. Who can forget the pictures of Rooney in Saudi Arabia waving a big sword, blissfully unaware that this is the country where they cut your hands off for adultery.
As ever, Wenger is playing a master stroke. Long may it continue.