Liverpool, Leicester, West Brom and Palace confirmed for Asia Trophy – and all four matches will be in Hong Kong
Premier League had been keen to host half the popular tournament in mainland China but familiarity with Hong Kong wins out
Liverpool, Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace have been confirmed for the Asia Trophy in Hong Kong in July – and in a boost for local fans, all four games will be in Hong Kong rather than shared with mainland China.
The Post exclusively revealed in January that the Reds would be coming to the city, but initial plans were that the tournament would be split between Hong Kong and Shanghai, with the Premier League keen to promote its brand on the mainland.
However on Thursday it was confirmed both sets of games will now take place at Hong Kong Stadium, on Wednesday, July 19, and Saturday, July 22.
“We’re really looking forward to playing in the Premier League Asia Trophy this summer,” Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp said.
“It’s important that the club takes part in competitions like this as it gives local fans the opportunity to get closer to the action.
“The club has a huge fanbase in Hong Kong and we hope to put on a good performance for our fans.”
With the planned schedule clashing with Chinese Super League fixtures, plans for Shanghai to host half the event were abandoned. Guangzhou and Shenzhen were still being discussed as possibilities as recently as last week, but it appears the ease of working in, and the EPL’s familiarity with, Hong Kong won out.
Hong Kong has hosted the popular pre-season tournament three times before and the Premier League is a fan of the city – although the last time the tournament was held here, in 2013, it descended into farce after downpours turned the much-maligned pitch into a quagmire, drawing negative headlines around the world.
Then Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio blasted it as a “killer pitch”, while Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City were said to be eager to abandon the tournament.
“We are very excited to be returning to Hong Kong this summer for the Premier League Asia Trophy,” said Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore in the statement.
“We know from previous visits that fans in Hong Kong, and across the region, are passionate supporters of our clubs.
“In Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Liverpool FC and West Bromwich Albion we have a group of excellent clubs, players and managers who will give local fans a fantastic Premier League experience.”
Ticketing information will be announced in early June, the press release said. Liverpool played in the tournament in Hong Kong in 2007, losing to Portsmouth on penalties in the final.
“The Hong Kong Football Association is delighted and honoured to host four Premier League clubs in July for the Premier League Asia Trophy 2017,” said HKFA chief Mark Sutcliffe.
“The passion and enthusiasm for the Premier League in Hong Kong has never been higher and the opportunity to see world class players in the flesh will be met with great anticipation.
“As co-organisers of the event, the Hong Kong Football Association will do everything it can to ensure that it is the best Asia Trophy ever. With two match days and a wide range of community engagement activities, there is a lot to look forward to and personally, I can’t wait.”