Thousands of Chinese soccer fans went home very disappointed last Monday evening, following the cancellation of the much-anticipated Manchester derby, after rain the previous week had left the pitch at the Bird’s Nest stadium in an unplayable state. Coupled with less than stellar pre-season tours in previous years, it’s hard to see many top Premier League teams jumping at the chance to return to China, especially when trips to the US and elsewhere are so much more enjoyable.
The expected resumption of hostilities between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, the new coaches of City and United respectively, had shone an unusually bright spotlight on this pre-season friendly, which, unfortunately, only served to highlight the inadequacies of the event’s preparation.
I wrote about the state of Hong Kong stadium last week, after which two more Barclays Asia Trophy games took place and another player was injured. I don’t usually sympathize with players who get paid tens (and sometimes hundreds) of thousands of pounds per week for kicking a ball around a field, but that changes somewhat when their safety is willfully put at risk simply because the Premier League must make money at all costs.
Hong Kong has been drawing lots of negative attention this week – specifically the semi-flooded state of the Hong Kong Stadium pitch, on which the Barclays Asia Trophy is being played. It consists of 3 EPL teams and a local side sliding through puddles under the guise of vaguely competitive soccer.