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Do Preseason Friendlies Matter?


Preseason. A topic of argument in almost every sport.

Do teams really need to play in preseason matches in order to be ready for the season? Many argue that preseason is a waste of time that only serves to injure star players and waste time. Others argue that the preseason is essential for players to get into peak condition for the regular season.

The two sides of the argument (and an invisible third) after the jump.

The Anti-Preseason Argument:

People in this group actually have a valid point. Notice the word "A". There is only one arguing point, but it is critical. The preseason can definitely injure star/impact/important/favorite players for the short term or the long term. No one ever wants to see this. I don't like to see anyone get injured because it's just a waste of talent. It's bad for the game of football. There is no point in injuring players for friendlies that don't matter. This leads to coaches sparsely using starting players. We then lose the point of having friendlies altogether.

There are some secondary arguments too that are a little less convincing. One of them is that clubs just have these friendlies to make money. My rebuttal to this is always, "then don't go". As long as people go, they are going to have some sort of flashy friendlies.

Another argument is that they are just plain pointless. They don't really give any continuity or help the squad in any way so why waste everyone's time. It's just a waste of energy. I don't really have a comeback for this one because, to be honest, it's a little true.

The Corporate (The man) Argument:

This one is the easiest.

Businesses want to make money. How do you make more revenue? Have more matches. Simple and true. You can't really lose money by having extra matches. Unless of course your star player gets injured, which results to less excitement surrounding the club, which results in less people watching/coming to a match, which results in lost revenue. But usually it means more money.

There is also the case that it generates interest in clubs and the league across continents. Clubs continue to schedule matches in revenue-potential nations. USA, China, and now even India have become pit stops for major clubs as they try to spur interest in their clubs. This is extremely important for The Man clubs continue to lose money and they need to find new ways of generating income. Going to sport-malnourished countries is the general consensus to alleviating this problem.

The Pro-preseason Argument:

I probably don't need to go in depth into any of these points since they are self explanatory, so I'll just spell it out.

  • Increase in chemistry
  • Some good playing time for younger members or new players to the club
  • Getting match day fit for the regular season


So where does that leave us on Preseason friendlies?

It's a combination of all of the above. I don't really see an increase in chemistry or a help in playing time for newer members (we have the reserve matches for that). I do believe that there needs to be some competition with a team the club is less familiar with. Playing the same scrimmages in practice and camp doesn't really bring out the best in players and friendlies solve that problem to an extent.

Would teams perform much worse without friendlies? Probably not. And I do think there are too many friendlies played in general.  From a corporate standpoint, it is a goldmine and in the end that is what always prevails.