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Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup still a work in progress
SAINTS did try to deliver a spectacle for fans with this year’s Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup.
They succeeded to a certain extent, but a few hurdles still remain to be overcome if the tournament if is to be declared a major triumph.
In terms of the format of the day, when it comes to the football it does provide some entertainment, allowing for the fact it is early in pre-season and nothing is ever very exciting at that stage.
To see a continental team is always interesting, albeit there is no doubt that having Anderlecht instead of Glasgow Rangers dented the potential turnout.
Saints didn’t give out an official attendance on the day but slightly over 10,000 was probably a fair estimate.
A very unscientific look round at the shirts fans were wearing would suggest that about 20 per cent of those were supporters of Arsenal or Anderlecht, which meant about 8,000 Saints fans in the ground.
Is that a good attendance?
For pre-season it is really, but the inevitable question is where were all the fans that were clamouring for tickets at the end of last season and will be doing again for the start of the new campaign?
The truth is that this tournament is going to struggle to be really well attended while the ticket prices are so high.
To charge £25 for an adult for the first games of pre-season is a lot of money.
Especially when ticket prices have just gone up again for the forthcoming Premier League campaign, particularly in these times of economic hardship.
Given the choice between this friendly and putting the money towards a Premier League ticket, it appears a lot of fans voted with their wallets.
In fairness to Saints it cannot be a cheap tournament to stage, and they weren’t helped by the fact it was pretty much public knowledge that Arsenal were bringing a very young team with them.
Add to that the weather and Olympic torch celebrations, plus the late kick-off which wasn’t very attractive at all, and it all adds up.
It’s tough for Saints to think of a way round it.
They could try to make the tournament’s total running time a little shorter, as even the most ardent Saints fan will baulk at the idea of over four hours inside St Mary’s.
That the Olympic torch made an appearance was nice, albeit it was a little strange.
Most fans thought it had appeared on time, but in fact it was the person readying themselves for the handover, with the real torch running late.
Much like last year, it was a decent event overall.
But there is still room for improvement to make it a roaring success.