Rehman defends Premier League club tours
In recent years, Asia has been a popular destination for Premier League giants, with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea often visiting this part of the world and playing against local sides as part of their pre-season preparations.
Liverpool, who last visited Malaysia in 2011, have not bucked the trend as they are set to return to the Malaysian shores to play an exhibition match at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on July 24.
However, such exhibition matches have been dubbed ‘circus games’ by certain fan groups in Malaysia for interrupting the regular football season.
Rehman, who previously played in the Premier League for Fulham, thinks that everyone can take a lot from these tours.
“I think it's great when English Premier League clubs come to Asia because they have such a massive following here,” Rehman told FourFourTwo Malaysia on Monday.
“It gives a chance for the local fans to meet their idols and see the players in action because they might not get that privilege often.
“When I was playing for Kitchee in Hong Kong, we played against Manchester United and Arsenal in front of full stadiums [which showed the drawing power of the Premier League].
“Besides that, it is great for the local players to play against quality opponents from the Premier League, and good for a country’s image because it generates a lot of publicity.
“It is also good for the Premier League players because it lets them realise how big Asia really is.”
Despite championing the Asian tours, Rehman echoed the sentiments of Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore that these exhibition matches have to be done the right way.
“I think there are a lot of benefits if we look at the bigger picture, but [in saying that] I understand the concern of some of the local fans about exhibition matches interrupting with the local league,” he added.
“It could've been a win-win situation if the timing had been better and these matches did not affect the local schedule.”
All tickets for the Malaysia XI-Liverpool match are now available for purchase at www.ticketpro.com.my.