Football is a completely different game now to the one I grew up watching as a kid in the 1990's. The expectations are greater. The standard is better. The commercial opportunities for Premier League clubs across all different continents are almost infinite. It's becoming more and more like a business.
Everyone and their dog knows by now that the English Premier League season has been over for weeks, but a few clubs in particular had end-of-season tours to complete before their players earned a rest. Chelsea and Manchester City finished a quick tour of the United States after each went through gruelling seasons.
Chelsea in particular played a phenomenal amount of games in the 2012-13 season. They competed in no less than 8 competitions: The Premier League, Capital One Cup, FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Europa League, World Club Cup Championship and the Charity Shield. Yet they finished the season stronger than clubs who hadn't played nearly as many games as them.
The squad of Chelsea players, in all honesty, must have been exhausted after their exploits throughout the season. I'm sure that the last thing that they would have wanted was to add a long-haul flight to the United States and a couple of meaningless end-of-season friendlies to their schedule.
It seems crazy to me that Premier League clubs continue to play matches once the season is over. It's understandable if they're meaningful fixtures, like European finals and domestic games for example, but there's no sense in making the players travel thousands of miles for a game that, effectively, means nothing.
Considering the pace that the modern-day game is played at, the players have to be given a rest. Yes, they might be paid handsomely, but the players deserve their rest at the end of the season as much as anyone else does. There's a World Cup or a European Championship every 2 years and the best players will undoubtedly represent their countries at those tournaments.
But in the years that there isn't a World Cup or European Championship, it's irresponsible to subject players to meaningless tour matches when they should be resting up to prepare mentally and physically for the challenges that the new season will bring.
These end-of-season tours are effectively a PR exercise. They're done for commercial reasons, and it's understandable that Premier League clubs take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.
However, the players need to rest as much as possible, especially at the end of the season. If their club—Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, whoever it may be—want to play friendlies in different countries, then fine. But do it during pre-season. Give the players a rest during the summer to recharge their batteries.
Otherwise, clubs run the risk of their prized assets being burnt out before the season even starts, and that won't benefit anyone.
Premier League clubs invest a lot of money in their players and yes, from my point of view, they do work too hard in the summer—especially when they do these PR tours at the end of a long, arduous season.