Kitchee's Arsenal clash looks set to be a sell-out
Nearly half the tickets have been snapped up for Arsenal's visit next month when they take on local champions Kitchee at Hong Kong Stadium - and this even before the fate of their captain Robin van Persie has been decided.
The 29-year-old striker has a year left on his Emirates contract but is believed to be keen on a transfer.
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis (pictured), in town for yesterday's media announcement on the Gunners' visit, was coy on whether local fans will be able to see Van Persie in action on July 29 in a match to mark the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong's reunification with China.
Although refusing to confirm his presence, Gazidis said: 'There is no reason why you won't see Persie.'
He added: 'I have made an undertaking with Robin that we are not going to disclose our conversations over the course of this summer. All I can say is that he is under contract to us for another year and he is our captain.'
The uncertainty over the Premier League's top scorer this season - Van Persie banged in 30 goals - hasn't prevented a run on 'internal' ticket sales, with 16,112 already sold. This means fewer than 20,000 tickets will be available for the public when they go on sale today, with prices ranging from HK$280 to HK$880.
'We already have had a very good and encouraging response to our internal sales of tickets which mainly go to our sponsors and subscriptions,' said Kitchee president Ken Ng Kin. 'I'm sure the remaining tickets for the general public will also be sold and that we will have a full house.'
Ng was confident that Van Persie would be among the club's other stars - including Germany's Lukas Podolski, who has just signed on, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky - as Arsenal return to Hong Kong for the first time in 17 years.
Arsenal will play at the Bird's Nest in Beijing two days before coming face to face with Hong Kong treble champions Kitchee.
Gazidis said: 'Hong Kong is the last match in our build-up to the forthcoming Premier League season. I have been told that Kitchee play a technical style of football not unlike Arsenal so it will be a good test. I am sure fans of both clubs will enjoy the great atmosphere we expect.'