Fans snap up tickets for Barclays Asia Trophy
All 26,000 for final of tournament involving Sunderland, Spurs, City, South China sold
Fans snapped up tickets for next month's Barclays Asia Trophy soccer tournament at an unexpectedly fast rate when they went on sale yesterday.
Late last night, just 80 of the 26,000 public tickets available for the final day remained. For the opening day, more than 10,000 tickets were sold, and organisers expect the remaining 16,000 to be absorbed very soon.
Fans who tried to buy tickets online spoke of hours of frustration as they attempted to access the busy website, while long queues were seen at several ticket outlets in the city.
"It was like record breaking … a great day as far as we are concerned," said Hong Kong Football Association chief executive Mark Sutcliffe.
"It is not really exceeding our expectations because we know there is a huge demand for quality football in Hong Kong. They are great teams and there is always a lot of interest in the English Premier League here."
The biennial tournament, to be held in Hong Kong for the third time since 2007, will feature two initial matches - between EPL heavyweights Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland, as well as Manchester City against domestic champions South China - at Hong Kong Stadium on July 24. Three days later at the same venue, the two winners will meet to decide the trophy, with a play-off for third place.
Fans will be eager to see Manuel Pellegrini, who is expected to be named the new City boss once La Liga season ends this weekend. The 59-year-old Malaga manager has already spoken of his excitement at the "great project" at Manchester City and promised to produce a team that plays "very good football" in an attempt to regain the Premier League title from rivals Manchester United next season.
Sunderland will be led by their charismatic Italian manager Paolo Di Canio, who joined the Black Cats in the closing stages of last season and rescued them from the prospect of relegation.
Spurs, in their first season under Andre Villas-Boas, gained a club record 72 points and finished in fifth place in the table to earn themselves a berth in the Europa League next season.
The 2011 Asia Trophy, which was also held in Hong Kong, attracted a crowd of 34,000 on the opening day, and the attendance surged to 38,900 for the final.