WENGER ACCEPTS TOUR COMPROMISE
Arsene Wenger accepts Arsenal had to make a "sporting compromise" with their pre-season summer tour to the Far East and Nigeria.
The Gunners broke with tradition in 2011 when they headed to Asia instead of Wenger's long-preferred option of a secluded training camp in Austria and low-key warm-up games before completing preparations for the new campaign at the Emirates Cup.
This summer during July Arsenal will visit Malaysia, China - where they will play Manchester City at the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing - and Hong Kong, then travel off again to Nigeria in early August.
While Wenger admits it is not perhaps the best preparation for his squad, many of whom will have been at the European Championships, the Arsenal manager can understand the need for the change in philosophy.
Speaking at a press conference flanked by Arsenal's chief commercial officer Tom Fox and sponsor Emirates' divisional senior vice president corporate communications Boutros Boutros, Wenger said: "We have had to compromise on the sporting side, because we had a rational, methodical approach to our pre-season.
"We have sacrificed some of that to go on tour.
"But we are in a race with the other clubs as well. I realised when I was at the World Cup in South Africa how popular a club like Arsenal is in Africa, especially in Nigeria. It is unbelievable.
"I was even frightened at some stage by how popular Arsenal is. In Kenya as well, it is absolutely unbelievable."
The Arsenal manager added: "A tour has advantages and disadvantages, let's be honest.
"The advantage, of course, is to get in touch with your fan base in Asia - when you travel out there you realise how big the Premier League is and how big your club is over there.
"We are looking forward to doing it again, but unfortunately in the European Championship years or the World Cup years, on the purely sports side you suffer a bit more because your players have just come back and have to travel again, so the preparation time will be short for them.
"But on purely fanbase it is very exciting."
Fox, meanwhile, insisted the club's commercial team were acutely aware of the impact of their business strategy on the team.
"We do not take these decisions lightly at all," the American said.
"We understand from a training perspective it is not ideal, and the pressure we feel that when we do something as disruptive as taking Arsene's preparation on the road, we need to make sure we get the most out of that.
"We feel that responsibility acutely within this club.
"We are not just flying people around because we think there may be opportunities.
"We have tried to be very purposeful about it because we completely understand it is a very disruptive thing to do.
"So we are going to do everything we can to make sure we get everything we can from these visits and games."
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