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English Premier League

Local favourites Liverpool set to come to Hong Kong for Premier League Asia Trophy

Southampton and another unnamed club also set to take part in the popular tournament, which this time will be shared with Shanghai

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 January, 2017, 2:06pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 July, 2017, 3:36pm

Premier league giants and local favourites Liverpool look set to return to Hong Kong for the English Premier League’s Asia Trophy this summer.

The Hong Kong Football Association is still finalising details with the Premier League for the July event, but a source familiar with negotiations said the five-time European champions and local favourites, will be top of the bill.

“They don’t make too many appearances in China but have been a household name there for many years,” the source said.

“Also, their major sponsor [Standard Chartered] is very familiar with Hong Kong and that’s why they are targeted.”

HKFA chief executive Mark Sutcliffe said they were close to reaching a deal with the Premier League.

“Extensive discussions have taken place between the HKFA and the EPL over the last few months and an agreement in principle has been reached,” he said.

“Final arrangements can’t be confirmed yet because the EPL is also in discussion with the mainland authorities regarding one of the match days being held in China.

“We understand these discussions are also at an advanced stage and an announcement with final details is expected within the next few weeks.”

Liverpool last came to Hong Kong in 2007, when the city first hosted the tournament. They have reportedly been the target of a takeover bid China, though that interest seems to have quelled.

This year’s event will be split between Hong Kong and Shanghai, with the Premier League keen to expand its brand still further on the mainland. The matches will be played on July 20 and 22, with a decision yet to be made on which city hosts them first.

One of the three Premier League teams involved is believed to be Southampton. The Hong Kong matches would also feature the domestic champions, while in Shanghai big-spending Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG would be the fourth side, it is understood. There will be no final for the competition.

Liverpool are currently fourth in the Premier League as they fight for a first title since 1990.

Hong Kong has also hosted the 2011 and 2013 editions of the biennial Asia Trophy, but 2013’s was a huge embarrassment when torrential rain saw managers of the teams and the world’s media slam the Hong Kong Stadium playing surface, with then Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio describing it as a “killer pitch”.