TO give you a little insight, I'm a Palace fan who spent almost six years abroad, in the United States. I think I'm in a position to make the case against playing Premier League games abroad, from the perspective of someone who experienced watching games remotely. Football is a global game. The marketing of English football, specifically the Premier League, has turned it into a 'product' – ready to be sold to the highest bidder and advertised in every corner of the World. I understand that there is a taste for the Premier League abroad – I saw it with my own eyes and I get the fascination with it. The Premier League and its member clubs would have you believe that its success is all because of the clubs and the players. Indeed, you can tell that by the extortion that English clubs seem to burden loyal supporters with – gone are the days where clubs were intrinsically tied to their local communities. Sure, many have local outreach programs, but there's little consideration for the average supporter – it's a taste of the corporate where once community was key. Football is a global game, they say, and they'll trample over you to get that little bit more. But there is no atmosphere in football like there is in English football; that atmosphere is intrinsically tied to England. You'll export the stars and the razzmatazz, but you won't export the supporters and the atmosphere they create. And if you can't get the whole package, why bother at all? As a fan of American Football, I've attended a few of the games at Wembley. They're nice. You get to see some of the best NFL players compete at the home of English football. But it's nothing like going to a real game, and I wouldn't miss it if it the NFL were to say 'no more' to the concept. There really is no experience like the real experience. Having spoken to a couple of Americans who travelled over to the UK to watch their Oakland Raiders play, it seems that they are also vehemently against the idea. The pair hadn't missed a 'home' game in twenty years – their home game had been exported to Wembley and so they felt they couldn't miss it – neither were given any support to make the trip. They weren't consulted about the plans and I don't expect Palace fans to be part of the process, either. As a Palace fan abroad, I loved listening to Palace Radio as the game went on. Televised games were always a pleasure. But I also wouldn't deny Palace's English supporters the right to see their team play at home. I understood that I was watching English football being played in England; I cherished it because it was a taste of England that you couldn't get anywhere else. While the marketing bosses would have you believe that it'll be a worthwhile endeavour, citing the success of the NBA and the NFL in London, bear in mind that they do so on the basis of the capital it creates, rather than the consideration of the English supporters who make up such a large part of the Premier League 'product.'Robert Sutherland writes a weekly column for the Croydon Advertiser.
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