Man United vs Kitchee match kicks off with host of empty seats
Hundreds of tickets worth thousands of dollars were left unsold as the highly anticipated soccer game between local heroes Kitchee and Manchester United kicked off last night.
Touts and fans with spare tickets looked to offload their extras - counting on the lure of English Premier League soccer club ManU, reputedly the world's most popular football club. But the potential resale value plummeted, courtesy of an unexpected release of tickets.
The original quota available for the public - just 18,000 of the 40,000 tickets - sold out in just 4-1/2 hours in February, leaving many fans disappointed at not getting a seat. In the end, attendance was 39,102.
More than 1,500 extra tickets for the friendly match at the Hong Kong Stadium suddenly became available on Sunday after Kitchee bought back a surplus of sponsors' tickets from United to resell to the public.
Asked why so many tickets remained unsold, a spokeswoman for Kitchee said: "Ask the Football Association."
An official later said a few hundred tickets remained unsold in the end because there was very little time to sell them.
Before the game started, Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, chairman of the Mega Events Fund that paid HK$8 million for the game, said: "We are expecting a full house tonight. Anywhere ManU go, whoever they play, the game will become an event."
More than half the tickets had been reserved for sponsors and other groups. United received 6,000 tickets for staff and sponsors, and 4,000 to attract overseas supporters.
The Tourism Board took 4,000 tickets, while 3,642 went to the Hong Kong Football Association.
Civil servant Philip Tsang-sum, 58, was the first in line for the spare tickets yesterday and got three top-tier seats.
"I thought they were all sold out and I had no chance, but I came at 8.30am and was in luck," Tsang said.
Video: Manchester United play Kitchee on their pre-season tour