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Liverpool and Manchester United head to Bangkok – at great cost | Soccer

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PThe re-season tours return next month, with Liverpool and Manchester United bringing a taste of North West England to South East Asia. “For this part of the world, they are the two biggest clubs in football – we couldn’t do anything bigger,” said Marcus Luer, CEO of Total Sports Asia, who brokered the deal to bring the teams to Thailand. . “It’s the biggest game ever in Asia – the revenue will be the highest in Asia.”

The rivals meet in “The Match: Bangkok Century Cup” on July 12 at Rajamangala Stadium, one of Asia’s iconic arenas, where the best way to arrive is to take a motorbike taxi from the nearest train station. and weave through traffic. in the Thai capital with thousands of fans. While it offers an exciting taste of Thai football culture, the price of admission would make even Premier League fans in England cringe, despite Fresh Air Festival promoters arranging a pre-match appearance for the star of K-Pop Jackson Wang. The cheapest tickets at the 51,000-capacity site cost 5,000 baht (£115), around 60 times what fans pay to watch Thai Premier League games, and most cost much more expensive.

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“I don’t earn enough money to spend 10,000 baht on a football match,” says local Liverpool fan Thesis Laohajarastsang. “The prices are too high because the average salary here is around 30,000 baht per month. I understand that the cost of hosting the event is in the tens or hundreds of millions, but most Thai football fans cannot afford to attend the game. I feel for the diehards who will be forced to watch the game on TV.

Liverpool fans wait to enter Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium for the team’s game against the Thai Premier League All Stars in July 2014. Photo: Piti A Sahakorn/LightRocket/Getty Images

European teams have often been guilty of exaggerating their popularity across Asia, but Thailand is a country where Liverpool and Manchester United have huge and long-standing support desperate to seize this rare opportunity to see their heroes. play against their rivals. “I’m more than excited because it’s been nine years since Man United came to do a pre-season in Thailand, and every time they came they faced a Thai team,” Warunthorn Somkitrungroj said. “But this time it’s Man United against arch-rivals Liverpool. I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to watch the game with my own eyes like this.

No matter what, that United fan will be there. “I’m going to take the day off, I’m going to drag myself to the game even if I’m sick. I have to witness and be part of this historic Red War in Asia. She admits the prices are high but says it could be worse. “It’s a lot cheaper than flying to England to watch the game because the visa fee alone will be almost as much as a ticket, then there’s the airfare, the hotels and match ticket which have high price with low chance of getting.”

Luer makes the same arguments and defends the ticket prices. “The clubs first said that the prices were aggressive and we had back and forth,” he says. “We know it’s over priced by some fans and that’s unfortunate. We pay the clubs a lot and you have to balance that. It’s not realistic to charge £50… Prices are high as they should be, otherwise it’s not commercially viable.

Manchester United fans watch the team train in Bangkok in 2013 during the club's last visit to Thailand.
Manchester United fans watch the team train in Bangkok in 2013 during the club’s last visit to Thailand. Photo: John Peters/Manchester United/Getty Images

Luer adds that in Bangkok, clubs will be equipped with state-of-the-art training facilities which will then be made available to children. “The neighborhood children will have the chance to play on the same field as their heroes. It may seem like a small thing but can be the start of the dream. We ripped up the stadium turf and the Liverpool gardener came and gave us the all clear. It’s as good a setup as anywhere in the world.

Liverpool will travel to Singapore to meet Crystal Palace, with the cheapest tickets at 149 Singapore dollars (around £88) and training tickets costing £23. It will cost at least £94 to watch Tottenham Hotspur take on the K-League side in Seoul, but all 66,000 tickets were bought up in 25 minutes.

There are still a few available for Manchester United against Liverpool in Bangkok, although a late wave of international visitors are expected. It remains to be seen whether they will fill the seats left empty by the likes of Manchester United supporter Jetsada Boonprasom. “It’s way too expensive for ordinary Thais,” he says. “The last time United came to Thailand in 2013, the most expensive ticket was 4,000 and they sold out despite playing the Thai All Stars. I understand times change, but it there are things I want and need more than a ticket. I won’t go because it’s too expensive.

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