English football clubs on preseason Asian tours benefit the sport in the region rather than taking the shine off the local scene, the Premier League’s chief spokesman said on Thursday.
“We’re here and we’re adding interest to the game, adding interest to football generally,” Dan Johnson said in Hong Kong, where a trio of top flight English clubs are competing with a local side for the Asia Trophy.
“I think if you can leave a legacy there as well as generating interest in the game, that’ll help develop the game here and we take that very seriously.”
Chelsea, Aston Villa and Blackburn are competing in the Asia Trophy with Hong Kong club Kitchee at Hong Kong Stadium.
Villa beat Blackburn 1-0 in its opening match while Chelsea on Wednesday thumped the locals 4-0.
The four-team event held every two years is in its fifth edition, and is hugely popular in the region. More than two thirds of the 80,000 tickets on offer were snapped up within five days.
Johnson said that despite the Premier League growing globally, Asia remained a key market for the clubs.
“Yes, the Premier League has grown across the globe, and teams are going to America and we’re big in Africa, but I think the passion and the knowledge and the understanding of fans in Hong Kong and the Asia region is still at that level up,” he said.
Johnson’s thoughts were echoed by former Aston Villa player Ian Taylor.
“This is where the most growth is and obviously you can see with the likes of Chelsea, Blackburn, Liverpool and Manchester United all coming over, obviously they see it as a big, big part of their brand management,” he said.