By Richard Clarke
The idea of playing Premier League games abroad is the result of football's inevitable move towards globalisation, according to Arsène Wenger.
On Thursday, it emerged that plans were being considered to play a round of top-flight games overseas in a few season's time. The Arsenal manager was not surprised.
"It is inevitable in some way," he said at his pre-match press conference on Friday. "Why? Because communications is always quicker. Right now if I tell you Philippe Senderos is injured in the same minute a guy in China can read that as well. That was not the case 20 years ago. So football is already global through television or media.
"Where it is not global is in access to the competition. At the moment TV gives access to the best in the world. And that means there will be a pressure for the best playing against the best.
"So then the question you ask is can the best against the best only be in England? And I think that's what the Premier League is trying to do. Not to lose the best domestically but to promote them abroad and keep the best in England. Will that last? I don't know."
It is an interesting view for Wenger to take given that he has famously refused major money to take his side on promotional pre-season tours.
"For one friendly game they offered to pay cash up front," he said. "But I thought it is not the right way for us to prepare for the League."
However, it seems, competitive matches are different in his eyes.
"It is better to fly the team around the world for a competitive game than for friendlies," said the 58-year-old. "I have seen the French national team flying to Australia and then the next month flying to Chile for friendly. Nobody knows why.
"But if it is real competition then you don't cheat people. You can't satisfy people anymore with half competitive games because they always see the best on television. You cannot keep them happy with friendlies now."Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 9 Feb 2008