I recently had my first English Premier League match experience in person, though just a pre-season match, at the National Stadium of Singapore. The English Premier League (“EPL”) is arguably one of the world’s most popular sports league.
As part of Premier League giants Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC’s pre-season tour in Asia, both clubs came to Singapore to face off in a winner-takes-all match for the Standard Chartered Singapore Trophy 2022.
What is a pre-season match in football?
Just a little background for my non-football fans readers, though I am not an avid football fan myself. Pre-season sessions take place just before the start of sports seasons, setting athletes up for the main competition ahead. For football, the pre-season duration usually lasts for about 6 weeks.
The rules of a pre-season match are pretty much similar as an actual game in the EPL, just with one major difference – the number of substitutions. It was something I didn’t know as well until I attended this game. For this Standard Chartered Singapore Trophy 2022 match, teams are able to field unlimited substitutions. Liverpool fielded a club record of 32 players for this match.
Why are pre-season matches important? These matches help players acclimatise to situations they would face in actual competition games and prepare them for it. It also helps gel in the new signings. Depending on the club, they went to places which had better climatic conditions than at home to ease the players in, or harsher climates to that the players can hit the ground running then the new season starts.
Commercial aspects were once a secondary thought, but now they are the main reason for these tours. Now, football clubs will tour a place where they want to increase fanbase or for sponsorships, regardless of the climate and conditions, and are made to play high profile friendlies.
Take the game that I went to for an example – the Singapore National Stadium has a capacity of 55,000, guess what was the attendance for the night? A whopping 50,217 fans turned up for the game! At an average ticket price of $200 apiece, that’s over $10 million dollars in gross revenue just from ticket sales alone. That’s excluding revenue from sponsorships and others.
My English Premier League match experience
First thing that hit me when I entered the National Stadium of Singapore was the sea of red of Liverpool supporters. Everywhere you look, there were little heads bobbing about. It was a first for me, as I have never attended a sporting event this big.
The game kicked-off at exactly 8.35 PM. After an enthralling game, the Reds claimed a 2-0 victory over the Eagles. Throughout the game, there was never a dull moment. From fans singing along to Richard Rogers – You’ll Never Walk Alone before kick-off, to the spectators taking part in the iconic Kallang Wave, or when Mohamed Salah came onto the pitch and doubled the lead just moments after he came on as a substitute to replace Luis Diaz in the 47th minute – the atmosphere was electrifying.
It was definitely a unique experience for me. I believe it was the same for many who were there that night. Experiencing the sights and sounds of an EPL match, is a dream come true for many football fans. There is something quite unquantifiable about the experience of watching a live game in a stadium, versus watching it through a screen.
Watching it in-person opens up a whole new perspective. You can really see the work that they put into it, and how tired they can get at the end after all the hard work on the pitch. I also got to see how the players got dramatic and excessively exaggerate normal fouls first-hand.
|Did you know?|
In football, players are dramatic and excessively exaggerate normal fouls as a strategy to manipulate the decision of the referee. In this way, the referee really believes there was a foul and can make a call beneficial for the simulating team, like awarding a red or yellow card for the opposing team or a penalty kick.
While I haven’t got the chance to experience an actual EPL match live in the UK, I am glad that I took the next best option and experienced my first English Premier League match experience in Singapore. This experience will stay etched in my mind forever.
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