• A-League All Stars coach Josep Gombau during training this week (Getty)
Italian champion Juventus has landed in Sydney for the second leg of its Asia/Australia pre-season tour and while tens of thousands of tickets have been sold for Sunday's meeting with the A-League All Stars I'm yet to be convinced of the concept's long-term benefit for Australian football.
By
Scott McIntyre

8 Aug 2014 - 1:00 PM  UPDATED 8 Aug 2014 - 3:08 PM

Does anyone seriously believe that a One Direction tour is the way to cure the ills of the Australian music industry?

How many people are getting along to The Factory or the Corner Hotel or Ric's Bar in Brisbane to support local artists after being inspired by Interpol or Lily Allen turning up at Splendour in the Grass?

Is this even the point?

I don't know myself and I certainly don't begrudge the legion of Juventus fans – many of them with a clear cultural link to the club – the chance to see their side up close.

It's certainly much cheaper than a flight to Turin.

The questions, as I see them though, are why are these 'tours' happening and what, if any, benefit, do they provide to nurturing local football?

Many years of living and working in Asia have taught me to be highly sceptical of the motives of these European clubs and as my SBS colleague Vitor Sobral laid out in fairly plain terms, the altruism pretty much starts and ends with money.

Again that's all well and good from the club's point of view – if there's a market willing to shell out major coin to bring it here and generate brand exposure, or whatever the marketeers call it, then why wouldn't it lap it up?

There's also a neat symmetry for broadcasters and a quiet killing to be made for promoters including, in this case, the governing body.

Aside from revenue from the TV deal and match ticket sales, FFA's online shop is offering a nifty range of merchandise; the fashionista's blue and yellow T with the giant logo of the same letter in white and pink in the middle for $99, or caps for $50 anyone?

While you're there you can also, oddly, pick up a replica strip of the Brazilian, Greek, England (home and away), France, Portugal, USA and New Zealand national teams.

I digress but is this the only national federation that flogs off kits from other countries?

And at a time when FFA is telling clubs they can't weave foreign elements into their name or badge. Mmmm.

Back to the issue at hand, these promotional jaunts are nothing new to any football fan in Asia although Australia – in the A-League era at least – has been a little slow in coming to the party.

Any number of English, Italian, Spanish and German clubs have been regularly making trips for a number of decades.

I clearly remember sitting in a hotel in Yokohama, Japan, several years ago when a leading Serie A side was in town.

Some children, associated with the club's then major sponsor, asked if it wouldn't be too much trouble to get an autograph and were - in harsh tones - told that the team was simply too tired.

Barcelona was ridiculed for its behaviour in a 2010 pre-season trip to Korea and there is an endless stream of stories from local fans who pretty quickly caught on that they were being viewed as consumers and little more.

There was even a suggestion a few years ago that official Premier League matches be played in Asia – at the same time as the Asian Cup was taking place!

This is arrogance of the highest order and, frankly speaking, the fawning over clubs from the other side of the world, which the vast majority of fans have no cultural or emotional ties to, has always perplexed me.

Sure, we all enjoy admiring a league or team or players of a higher standard but that shouldn't come at the detriment of the local game.

It's a bit like ravenously chasing a supermodel rather than being content with what you have at home.

So, again, where is the benefit to the local game?

FFA argues that, in the midst of a lengthy off-season, it now has a product broadcast on a major free-to-air channel that will be viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.

With the mismatch in class that these fixtures inherently contain, that will no doubt lead to a healthy new following... for Juventus.

It will almost certainly reinforce the view that the majority of neutrals in this country (and a handy number of the 'football family') already hold and which runs along the familiar lines of 'the A-League's not really that good so why would I bother'.

As several of Asia's leading nations quickly figured out, by far the best formula for these fixtures is that if clubs really want to promote these foreign teams then let them do it themselves and in their place promote your own product by holding your own All Stars match.

Whether that be regionally-based or a match involving foreign players in the A-League against an Australian selection it's a concept that promotes the best talent on display here.

By far the most troubling aspect of this particular match though is the timing.

For decades local supporters have called for the introduction of a Cup tournament and in the very year – and week -  the first round proper is finally launched the national body is clearly prioritising the All Stars concept to the detriment of a real positive local story.

An A-League coach and a host of players were unavailable for their teams' opening FFA Cup matches because they were in camp to prepare for a showpiece that is fundamentally a promotional vehicle for a wealthy European club.

Let's hope some people, somewhere, take inspiration from this match and that it can help contribute to bringing more people through the gates of local clubs on a regular basis.

Because without it all we will have to look forward to is being a neat little market for the likes of Juventus and co.