Arsenal eye Asia pre-season tour instead of Austria

Robin van Persie challenges Jorge Vargas of Red Bull Salzburg during a pre-season friendly in 2007
The Asia tour would replace Arsenal's usual pre-season trip to Austria

Arsenal are close to finalising plans for a pre-season tour to Asia.

The Gunners have held their training camp in Austria every year since 2001, boss Arsene Wenger rejecting lucrative offers to travel further afield.

But Wenger has been under pressure from the club to alter his stance and agreed after being convinced the tour was not solely aimed at making money.

Wenger's preferred destination was Japan but March's tsunami has prompted Malaysia and China to be considered.

Arsenal will announce full details of the trip shortly but it was planned long before Stan Kroenke launched his bid for full control of the north London outfit on Monday.

Many of their Premier League rivals have made money-spinning tours an annual fixture in their pre-season plans and in recent years the powers that be at Arsenal have been keen to follow suit.

Kroenke, chief executive Ivan Gazidis and chief commercial officer Tom Fox realise the commercial benefits to be gained from developing their brand and fanbase in markets such as the Far East.

And with no European Championship or World Cup this summer, Wenger accepts that his team's preparations for the 2011-12 campaign will not be overly disrupted.

"I am under pressure from the club to do it [pre-season tour]," said the Frenchman, speaking at Arsenal's AGM in October.

"But I want to start the season well. If it's just to make money then no. If for other reasons, then maybe yes.

"We are examining it but not in a year when the Euros [are taking place] or World Cup years. International players, under Fifa rules, must have four weeks' holiday."

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