Forty-thousand fans flocked to watch Arsenal play in Hong Kong this summer. Now it’s the turn of the Manchester United hordes after the government agreed on Tuesday to help foot the bill for an exhibition game against Hong Kong champions Kitchee next July.
Hosted by the Kitchee Foundation, the exhibition match will take place at Hong Kong Stadium thanks to the Mega Events Fund handing over HK$8 million.
The government said the event would be expected to attract 40,000 spectators, a full house at the So Kon Po venue, including 8,000 tourists.
The organisers should have no trouble filling the stadium after fans clamoured to buy tickets for Arsenal’s match against Kitchee in July, the stadium selling out within weeks.
Ken Ng Kin, chairman of the foundation and team boss of First Division champions Kitchee, said they had yet to reach a deal with Manchester United, but it is believed the government injection would seal the deal.
A source said Kitchee had intended to bring Manchester United to Hong Kong this summer, but a reported appearance fee of US$2 million scared off the domestic champions.
“Kitchee would need to charge HK$1,200 for the highest priced tickets even if they want to break even for the match under such a staggering appearance fee,” said the source. “It would be a big risk for them and that’s why the plan fell through.
“Now, with the support of the fund, they can lower ticket prices to minimise the risk and that’s why Manchester United can return for the first time since 2005.”
Kitchee charged HK$880 for the most expensive tickets against Arsenal. They would probably use the same pricing standard for the Manchester United game.
It is believed the 19-times English champions will play three matches in Asia next summer.