Touring Without Tears – Steven Falk

January 6, 2011

It is important for every leading English Premiership football club to operate an effective strategy for pre-season tours, friendly matches and tournaments. This can facilitate a range of positive benefits, but is not without inherent risks for the unprepared. Clubs engage in pre-season tours and friendly matches generally do so for the following reasons:=

  • – To help condition the playing squad for the coming season
  • – To extend the club’s brand visibility and connect with local fans
  • – To allow local sponsors the opportunity of activating against club assets
  • – To cultivate positive PR by engaging in local community projects
  • – To generate incremental revenue

So what are the key issues for a touring club to consider before loading their most precious assets onto a plane (I mean the players, not the directors) and flying off to some far-flung destination to raise their club colours high and claim dominion over the territory and its indigenous fans for themselves?

  1. 1. Understand and establish the key motivation for the activity. Make sure this is communicated throughout the club on both the playing and commercial sides.
  2. 2. Identify the territory and research carefully any competitive activity that might affect the granting of regulatory approval or local demand for tickets.
  3. 3. Identify and establish good working relationships with the regional and national regulatory bodies necessary to sanction the planned activity
  4. 4. Implement a rigorous approach to tendering for local promoters, particularly where there are cultural issues such as language and local customs to meet.
  5. 5. Develop an internal project team and a robust operational process with representatives from each relevant department of the club participating.
  6. 6. Develop a comprehensive security plan in conjunction with local security services, club resources and advice from HMG Foreign Office as appropriate.
  7. 7. Put in place a detailed strategy for broadcast rights and other media facilities, ensuring that a tour website is available for each territory.
  8. 8. Implement a sponsorship plan to establish a range of global and local sponsors with a suitable rights inventory to activate around the tour.
  9. 9. Plan local strategies for linking with local fans through membership and CRM initiatives prior to, during and after the tour.
  10. 10. Plan the ticketing pricing and distribution strategy carefully in relation to local preferences and customs.
  11. 11. Ensure that club merchandise distribution licenses are in place before the tour commences and that tour-specific merchandise is available in each territory.
  12. 12. Develop a programme of community activity, ideally to operate in conjunction with the national governing bodies or the local opposition club.

A successful and sustainable tour strategy is therefore one that:-

  • – Establishes a brand presence in the market prior to the team’s visit through use of media, merchandise, sponsorship, CRM and local membership
  • – Forms a good working relationship with the regional & national associations
  • – Develops a strong portfolio of local sponsors keen to activate around the tour
  • – Leaves behind a legacy of social programmes to benefit the local community

    Follow these guidelines and you can avoid many of the pitfalls that so often trap the unwary. Star Sports Marketing has the experience and capability to help you plan your tour, organise friendly matches and execute tournaments at home and abroad. Visit or email for an informal discussion on the possibilities for your club.

Steven Falk

A graduate of Manchester University, Steven started his career in the motor industry before taking an MBA at Warwick University Business School.

There followed progressively senior roles in the Marketing and Commercial departments of Astra Zeneca; United Utilities; Great Universal Stores and MBNA, latterly as Head of Affinity Marketing. During this period, he worked on a range of UK and international assignments.

In 2001, Steven joined Manchester United as Director of Financial Services. Following the successful launch of the MU Finance business promoting a range of club-branded FS products to fans worldwide, Steven was promoted to Marketing Director. In this role he added Sponsorship, Brand Marketing, CRM and Club Pre-Season Tours to his existing Affinity FS responsibilities.

He was a member of the Executive Committee of Manchester United and a board director of Manchester United Foundation the club’s charitable trading arm.

In January 2010, Steven launched Star Sports Marketing, a specialist sports marketing consultancy. Details at

The business focuses on the key sports marketing disciplines of:-

  • -Brand management and development of company vision and image
  • -Sponsorship activation, relationship management and retention
  • -Affinity marketing including development of own-brand financial services
  • -CRM including data management, organisation and event marketing
  • -Loyalty and membership programmes
  • -Touring and friendly match organisation

To comment on this article or for an informal chat about how Star Sports Marketing can help your business, please contact Steven directly by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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