Sir Alex Ferguson won't be coming to Hong Kong
Alex Ferguson won't accompany Manchester United to Hong Kong in July when the English Premier League champions play Kitchee.
"Sir Alex won't be in attendance when the team visit Hong Kong this summer," press officer John Allen confirmed to the Sunday Morning Post.
Ferguson, 71, who retires after United's last match of the season today, will continue to be an ambassador for the club. Allen did not say why he would not be travelling with the squad, but the British media reported last week that Ferguson planned a short holiday before having hip replacement surgery in July.
His plans would clash with the team's trip to Hong Kong, as the game against Kitchee takes place on July 29.
Earlier this year, Ferguson revealed he needed hip surgery that was planned for August, after United's pre-season tour of Thailand, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong. But his retirement changed all that. He will need up to three months' recuperation.
The Ferguson news took Kitchee president Ken Ng Kin by surprise. He said he had imagined Hong Kong fans holding an emotional farewell for Ferguson at the game.
"I had a conference call with their operational people on Thursday night and they couldn't confirm it one way or the other," he said.
Such last-minute changes were inevitable, Ng said. He referred to Kitchee's friendly last summer with Arsenal, when Robin van Persie was due to play but did not make it to Hong Kong. Van Persie later joined United.
Ng said: "Instead he will be coming out to play here with United this year, so these disappointments always balance themselves out in the end."
His club had not put any undue pressure on United to bring out Ferguson or any particular players, Ng said, as he knew they would fulfil all their obligations professionally.
"They have a world-class squad and are looking forward to playing here," he said. Tickets for the match quickly sold out.