No repeat of ‘killer pitch’ for Premier League Asia Trophy this summer vows local official
Liverpool, Leicester City, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion feature in two-day event on July 19 and 22 after new HK$30 million pitch installed at Hong Kong Stadium
The new HK$30 million pitch at Hong Kong Stadium will guarantee no repeat of the disaster of the last Premier League Asia Trophy when the popular event returns this summer, local football chief Brian Leung Hung-tak said on Wednesday.
Hong Kong Football Association chairman Leung ruled out a second venue when Liverpool, Leicester City, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion feature in the two-day event on July 19 and 22.
“It’s only the Hong Kong Stadium and that’s it for the two match days,” said Leung, who was also in charge of the association when the last Asia Trophy was held in 2013.
“We think the new pitch can cope with much worse conditions than four years ago, but of course if it keeps raining the whole week when the event is on, there is not too much we can do but pray.”
Italian Paolo Di Canio, the then Sunderland manager when they last played in the 2013 tournament, condemned the 40,000-seat facility as a “killer pitch” after non-stop rain besieged the So Kon Po venue.
With the financial support of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, reconstruction work started in April 2015 to returf the pitch and replace the broken drainage system, and was completed later that year ahead of the new season.
Association chief executive Mark Sutcliffe praised the new pitch, saying it was much better than before as it had been designed to cope with 150mm/h of rain which is even higher than the black rainstorm, measured at 70mm/h.
Liverpool, Leicester, West Brom and Palace confirmed for Asia Trophy – and all four matches will be in Hong Kong
“We hope the work they did on the pitch is satisfactory and the weather is a little bit better than last time,” he said.
“We visited the pitch after last Friday’s game between Kitchee and [Tottenham Hotspur], which was held two days after a black rainstorm, and the condition was fine.
“But if it rains non stop for the whole week during the tournament, at the end of the day the referee will decide if the pitch is playable or not.”
Meanwhile, tickets will be available from Friday either online or from Tom Lee Music outlets.
The highest ticket price is set at HK$720 for the final day, which is 20 per cent higher than last time.
Tickets for the 2013 final were snapped up soon after they were put on sale.