The Blues are scheduled to play the Citizens on May 23rd at the Busch Stadium in St Louis, Missouri and against two days later at the Yankee Stadium in New York.
On announcing the match in New York, club chief executive Ron Gourlay said:
“The club is excited to be playing a double-header in the US this May and thrilled to be returning to Yankee Stadium.
“We were delighted to take part in the first ever football game there, and we received sensational support in what was a sea of blue fans inside and outside the stadium that day.
“Spending the week in St Louis and New York also provides a great opportunity for the club to reconnect with our US fans before we head to Asia in July for pre-season.
“America has long been an important place for Chelsea Football Club, and we have seen first-hand the continued rise of the game’s popularity.
“Beyond playing matches in the US we have developed a Super Club network, which allows thousands of children across the States to play competitive football in Chelsea kit and act as local ambassadors within their communities.”
Tickets to the first game in St Louis sold out in just 20 minutes, so the demand is there and the club is obviously keen to exploit every possible commercial option available to them but many have raised eyebrows to schedule games for this time for several football reasons.
Firstly, the West Londoners are scheduled to play 70 competitive matches over the course of the season if they go all the way in both the Europa League and FA Cup, many argue that it would probably be best for players to take a break.
Secondly, who will be going to the US? Rafael Benitez will finish his tenure at the end of the campaign and as the games will take place around the time the Champions League final will be played, it’s doubtful that the next manager will be in charge by then. Also, the likes of Frank Lampard are expected to be leaving the club and I doubt he’d be playing his last game in a Chelsea shirt abroad.
Whether you like the idea of the mini-tour or not, the club are exploring their commercial options and it’s an area they have a lot to catch up on as Chelsea’s earnings from sponsors are dwarfed by Manchester United, who can sell naming rights for their training ground for more than most clubs can sell stadium rights. I believe it’s an area Gourlay has failed in as he should be getting a lot more from Adidas, especially as one of their best-sellers, and the likes of Sunderland are earning more from shirt sponsorship than we’re getting from Samsung.