The Hong Kong government agreed Tuesday "to help foot the bill" for ManU to play an exhibition game against Hong Kong champions Kitchee in July, according to Chan Kin-wa of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. The match, hosted by the Kitchee Foundation, will take place at Hong Kong Stadium, "thanks to the Mega Events Fund handing over HK$8M ($1M)." The government said that the event is expected to attract "a full house" at 40,000 spectators, including 8,000 tourists. This past year, 40,000 fans "flocked to watch Arsenal play." It is believed that ManU "will play three matches in Asia next summer" (SCMP, 10/9).
Midfielder Alessandro Del Piero's home debut for Sydney FC is "heading for a packed house" with more than 11,000 tickets pre-sold for Saturday night's Week 2 match against Newcastle Jets at Allianz Stadium, according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. Club officials are "conservatively predicting" a crowd of at least 30,000, as tickets are being sold at the rate of 500-600 a day. Del Piero's presence at Sydney and in the A-League has "captured the imagination of fans" from all over the country. Many have purchased full-season memberships despite living far away and "are expected to turn out" to watch Del Piero's first home game. Sydney FC CEO Tony Pignata said, "There's no reason why we should not have more crowd records broken for the A-League this weekend." The "Del Piero effect was evident" in Week 1, when the Sky Blues' match against Wellington in New Zealand attracted more than 12,000 fans, while the game produced the highest TV ratings for a Phoenix home match (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/10).
FA General Secretary Alex Horne said on Tuesday that "there will be no men's Team GB football team for the Rio Olympic Games in '16" but has not ruled out the possibility of the women being able to compete, according to the London TELEGRAPH. The issue "has traditionally been very sensitive politically as the Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland associations all feel their participation threatens their individual status" within FIFA (TELEGRAPH, 10/9). The London DAILY MAIL wrote that Wales players were included in Team GB Head Coach Stuart Pearce's squad at London 2012, but there were no Scottish or Irish players involved. Horne said, "We play as England and we are proud to play as England, and I know Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are proud to play as their own individual entities, and we wouldn't want to do anything to risk that" (DAILY MAIL, 10/9).