Premier League’s commercial expansion claims its first victim of the season

Vertonghen injured in Hong KongJan Vertonghen suffered ankle ligament damage during the Barclays Asia Trophy in what cannot be described as anything but hazardous conditions.

Vertonghen is projected to be out for three to four weeks after suffering minor ankle ligament damage in Tottenham’s 3-1 defeat against Sunderland at the Barclays Asia Trophy. The Belgian defender underwent an MRI scan on Thursday to assess the extent of the ankle injury. As a result, he will miss the start of the Premier League season.

The game was played on a surface that resembled more a swamp than a football pitch. Clearly the Hong Kong Stadium’s pitch was not able to handle the massive amount of rain that quickly turned the pitch into a wet and muddy mess. After the kick-off was postponed for 30 minutes because of torrential downpour the game kicked off on the waterlogged pitch.

In stead of making the right call and postpone the game until the pitch was playable again, the Premier League pushed ahead and cut the game short to two halves of 40 minutes, something the local fans have had to be disappointed with.

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Spurs head coach André Villas-Boas slammed the conditions in which his team had to play:

“It was impossible to play football unfortunately. The conditions were extremely poor.

“I was concerned, but what can you do? The pitch is what it is. It’s always like that at this tournament. You can’t change the conditions. Jan might have sprained the ligaments in his left ankle. We need to have an MRI scan to see the full extent.”

Some might say the conditions, although not perfect, were no cause for concern. These kind of conditions happen everywhere. True, but most pitches in the Premier League and around Europe are equipped with professional drainage to cope with extensive downpour. However, a torrential downpour like those in the Asian monsoon season are rare in Europe. Even if the pitch at the Hong Kong Stadium was equipped with appropriate drainage, it simply couldn’t handle the massive downpour it faced on Wednesday.

Players are not made of glass, but one also has to consider the fact that it’s pre-season. Players are building up fitness levels and regaining muscle strength. They are not as match fit as they are when the season is in full flight and therefore are more prone to muscle and ligament injuries.

Once again the Premier League’s never-ending urge to expand its commercial ventures proved to be in conflict with what is best for the game. It was a miracle that there only was one major injury during the two matches played on Wednesday.

It’s pretty ridiculous to fly 6000 miles to play in conditions that are significantly worse than anywhere in the United Kingdom or Northern Europe for that matter. The urge for the Premier League and the clubs involved to expand their ‘brand’ and unearth ‘new markets’ to increase merchandise and TV revenue seems to be given priority over the health of the players and the true purpose of a pre-season campaign. Unfortunately, this time it was one of our players that was the victim of the Premier League’s commercial interests.


Dutch Spurs fan, football connoisseur and ambassador of free-flowing attacking football.

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2 comments on “Premier League’s commercial expansion claims its first victim of the season
  1. Raj says:

    Unacceptable to make players play in these conditions.

  2. Vinny says:

    Spot on Stephan! Cannot believe Scudamore compared playing in these conditions, in a pre-season friendly, to playing in similar in the middle of a PL season! Either he’s incredibly naive or he’s trying to deflect attention from the point at hand – PL greed. I wonder which!