Manchester City fans must be sick of hearing it. Jibes of playing at the “Emptihad” stadium and chants from Manchester United fans mocking their home attendances. “The city is yours, the city is yours … 20,000 empty seats, are you sure?” United fans mockingly sing to their neighbours and fierce rivals every time they play. It wasn’t quite 20,000 empty seats at Hong Kong Stadium on Wednesday night, when City took on Hong Kong Premier League side Kitchee in a preseason friendly. But it was close – 19,074, to be precise. With five minutes of the match remaining, the stadium announcer informed the crowd of a 20,926 attendance at the 40,000-seater stadium for the 6-1 defeat . Just four days earlier, United had packed out the 55,000-capacity Singapore National Stadium, which was a sea of red and a cacophony of noise as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were cheered on to a 1-0 win against Italian giants Inter Milan. It was another packed house at the Hongkou Stadium on Thursday night as United took on Tottenham in Shanghai. Oddly enough, there was a feeling before kick-off here on Wednesday evening that the game might have already sold out earlier in the day, with tickets no longer available online on StubHub. While Pep Guardiola’s English Premier League champions are one of the most thrilling sides in European football, it seems that’s not enough to attract the masses to So Kon Po. City were a joy to watch on the pitch – it’s just that there weren’t many watching. Thousands of tickets were still available at the box office just an hour before kick-off, starting at HK$590 and going up to HK$1,190. The price to watch a glorified open training session was perhaps too steep. Kitchee made HK$10.9 million from the match, according to Hong Kong Football Association figures, with 18,926 fans paid and 2,000 free tickets given away. Given the hefty appearance fee the champions of England would have surely commanded, it is reasonable to wonder whether Kitchee broke even. It was all in stark contrast to two summers ago, when Hong Kong Stadium was awash with red shirts as a full house roared Liverpool on to victory in the Premier League Asia Trophy. Jurgen Klopp’s side sold out the venue, as did United in 2013 and Real Madrid before them in 2003. A small pocket of the Manchester City Hong Kong supporters club did their best to generate some atmosphere, but they were easily matched, noise-wise, by the hard-core Kitchee support. The casual fans in the stadium certainly raised the noise levels more often when Kitchee went on their sporadic attacks – the biggest cheer of the night was saved for the hosts’ late consolation goal. Many of those Kitchee fans were preoccupied singing the anthem of the Hong Kong protests, Do You Hear The People Sing? , in the 21st minute, with protesters handing out leaflets containing lyrics ahead of the match. The song was a response to the attacks on protesters and journalists in Yuen Long by rod-wielding thugs on July 21. The Kitchee supporters then led chants of “Free Hong Kong” that caught on a bit before shouts of “Hong Kong, add oil!” rang out around the stadium in the second half. City’s fifth goal, in the 80th minute by Nabili Zoubdi Touaizi, was met with indifference as thousands of fans switched on the torch function on their phones and raised them in the air in protest. “Here I think the game was normal,” City manager Pep Guardiola said of the atmosphere in his post-match press conference, adding that his side’s preparations for the game had not been disrupted. “We were quite well, we moved around Hong Kong. The players had a day off, nothing happened. Hopefully they solve it. When the both sides are ready and able to find a solution, that’s going to happen.” But Guardiola’s diplomacy could not belie that it’s been a testing trip for City, whose flight out to China was twice delayed – not ideal preparation for a Community Shield clash against Liverpool that could provide an early indicator of Premier League supremacy this season. Guardiola also denied a report earlier this week by state-run news agency Xinhua that his team were disrespectful to Chinese fans on their visit to Shanghai. “It was nice to be here,” Guardiola said on Wednesday. “I think we did incredibly well, the players, especially off the pitch, doing all the commercial [side] and marketing. “It is what it is – I would have preferred to have it another way. Now it’s always like this. Going to the States or Asia, not always travelling in perfect conditions. The players accept that with a big smile, a little bit tired, but we did it.” Just how effective a commercial exercise this trip was is debatable. It was quiet at the merchandise stand on the upper West concourse – queues for which had backed up two years ago for Liverpool – and sky blue shirts were sparse in the stands. There weren’t even any on the pitch (City were wearing their black away kit, to avoid clashing with Kitchee’s dark blue). Instead, there were large pockets of empty green seats, something organisers Kitchee and the Jockey Club can’t have been happy about. For City, it shows that, while they are light years ahead of United on the pitch right now, they still have miles to go to catch up with their neighbours’ commercial clout in Asia.