Manchester United are heading to Asia in July for a pre-season tour with games in China, South Korea, Malaysia, and, for the first time, Indonesia, chief executive David Gill said Wednesday.
The Reds’ provisional schedule will see the team depart from Britain on July 16 for China where they will play in a yet-to-be-decided city.
From there, they move to Seoul for a match on July 20 and then down to Jakarta for the first time, where they will take on an Indonesia Super League Select at the massive Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on July 24.
The European and Premier League champions wrap up the tour against a Malaysia XI in Kuala Lumpur July 26.
But Vietnam, which last month said it was prepared to pay up to 2.47 million US dollars to entice United for a one-off game, missed out.
“Our tours to Asia are always special,” Gill said in Macau.
“The atmosphere generated by the supporters is amazing. The club enjoys unrivalled support across the continent and it is great to give those fans the opportunity to see their heroes in action in their own country.
“This tour takes in some new areas with a game in Malaysia, where we haven’t played since 2001, and one in Indonesia, so it promises to provide some exciting new experiences.”
United are hugely popular in the region and television revenues from Premier League games shown in Asia are big, but Gill insisted they wouldn’t be making significant money from the tour.
“But our presence allows us to deal and have relationships with multinational companies,” he said.
“That presence enables us to have that extra income which is then invested back into the club. Also it allows us to get closer to the fans.”
United last toured Asia in 2007 when they visited China, South Korea, Japan and Macau.
But a date in Kuala Lumpur was scrapped after they found themselves embroiled in a spat with the Asian Football Confederation, which insisted no foreign team should be playing when the Asian Cup was being held in Malaysia.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson told the club website the players were already looking forward to Asia after their hugely successful trip to Japan in December when they won the Club World Cup and were treated like kings.
“The players are really looking forward to our Asia tour. For some, the Club World Cup in Japan was the first time they had experienced the passion generated by the club in Asia and they enjoyed it immensely,” he said.
“We know we will get terrific support in each of the locations and we will be going to put on a show for our millions of fans over there. Indonesia will be a new experience for us and one I’m especially looking forward to.”
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