November 3, 2011
More and more we are hearing about overseas fans of the Premier League and La Liga. Numbers are growing in football's 'emerging markets' throughout the world with unprecedented interest from the USA, Malaysia, China and more.
Liverpool chairman Ian Ayre recently commented that his club would like an end to the collective funding agreement in which all Premier League clubs benefit from an 'equal share of the pot' - he would like Liverpool (and all other clubs) to go their separate ways in terms of individually negotiating TV deals in foreign markets. Thankfully this was met with outrage from senior officials in the English game and it is believed that the other Premier League power-houses have distanced themselves from Ayre's comments.
This comes not too long after the Premier League bandied about the idea of 'the 39th game' - a possible additional game for each Premier League club in the domestic season to be played overseas - a larger scale version of what the NFL have been doing in London this past four or five years or the Italian's in the Beijing Super Cup.
This coming Sunday Real Madrid face Osasuna in a match that kicks off at 12.00 noon - something that Madrid are keen on pushing, including for el Clasico's, in order to benefit from the Asian TV market.
Football is changing - is it for the better or worse? Will this hinder the development of the domestic game within the emerging markets? How will China ever grow their own league and national team if the people are only interested in watching what Europe has to offer? Or will it raise the game to an all time high in terms of profile and attract more young people to play the game, therefore having a positive impact?
The MLS seems to be going from strength to strength and I often communicate with a number of Stateside NUFC fans on here and through Twitter. Those chats plus all of the above left me wondering what it must be like to support and love a football club from afar. I was born in Newcastle and live four or five miles from St James's Park - it dawned on me that I take that fact for granted. What would it be like if I couldn't go?
This week I caught up with Robert Schwoch and Tom Ziemer from www.newcastleunited.us (you may know them as @NUFC_US on Twitter) to find out exactly what it is like. Great guys. Enjoy: