Manchester United have officially confirmed that the Premier League leaders will visit Hong Kong in the summer to take on Kitchee in a friendly, as first revealed by SCMP.com in October.
United first visited Hong Kong in 1975 but haven’t been back since 2005. The game on July 29 will follow the Barclays Asia Trophy, which sees Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City visit for a four-team tournament with South China on July 24 and 27.
The government’s Mega Events Fund will pay HK$8 million to help cover the cost of United’s sizeable appearance fee.
“This is indeed a mega event for Hong Kong because Manchester United is undoubtedly the best-supported football club here and their local fan base is legendary,” said Ken Ng Kin, Kitchee’s chairman. “The match will also be the thrilling conclusion of a week of English Premier League football in Hong Kong this summer.
“On behalf of the Kitchee Foundation, I sincerely express our thanks to the Mega Event Fund for their contribution to make this event possible.”
United are expanding further into Asia and mainland China, and recently opened an Asia-Pacific branch in Hong Kong. Last month they signed sponsorship deals with large mainland firms Wahaha and China Construction Bank. According to their own research, they estimate they have 2.2 million fans in Hong Kong and 108 million in the mainland.
“The club has tremendous support throughout China and especially in Hong Kong,” said United chief executive David Gill. “We have visited on a number of occasions, and after an eight-year gap, it’s a pleasure for the team to be able to return to Hong Kong again this year. We are looking forward to engaging with our loyal fans, our commercial partners and most importantly preparing for the season ahead.”
Vincent Fung, assistant commissioner for tourism and secretary to the Mega Events Fund said he was confident the game would provide tourism benefits to the city. They said as many as 8,000 tourists would attend the match, which is expected to be a 40,000 sell-out at Hong Kong Stadium.
“We are confident that this mega event will bring thousands of visitors to Hong Kong and reinforce our reputation as Asia’s World City,” Fung said.
Tickets go on sale from February 20 and are priced from HK$290 for category four concessions, to HK$990 for category one.
SCMP video by Hedy Bok