Friday June 1st Manchester United confirmed they will travel to China as part of their 2012 Asian tour to play against local side Shanghai Shenhua on Wednesday July 25th in a friendly match at Shanghai Stadium.
The match will be United’s first exhibition game in China since the 2009 friendly in Hangzhou against Hangzhou Greentown FC, and second match against Shenhua after a visit in 1999 that saw the Reds win 2-0 in front of an 80,000 crowd at the same venue.
With Manchester City and Arsenal scheduled to play two days later on July 27th in Beijing’s iconic Bird Nest stadium this shows the priority English Premier League clubs are placing on Asian, and specifically, Chinese markets.
The local media, including , will relish the high-profile matches, as well as Chinese fans of the EPL giants’, especially with the potential reunion of Nicolas Anelka and expected Didier Drogba with their former EPL counterparts.
However much speculation remains to the substance behind such visits, beyond marketing ploys and ticket sales, especially the question of any contributions to the domestic game in China which will be in the middle of its CSL season and in need of football infrastructure development.
Pic: Shenhua take on Manchester United last time around in 1999
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015