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Man United at home in Asia
The Premier League champions prefer their Asian and African fan base over the US.
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2007 06:36 GMT

Man United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson, right, and Korean star Park Ji Sung in Seoul [GALLO/GETTY]

Manchester United, nine-time English Premier League champions, will tour South Africa in 2008 after admitting that Africa and Asia, rather than the United States, are the regions where their fan-base is most fanatical.
The Premiership champions, currently in Asia on a four-leg pre-season tour, were due to land in Macau on Saturday after thrilling fans in Tokyo and Seoul earlier this week.

United's star players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and injured South Korean midfielder Park Ji-Sung have been subjected to incredible displays of adoration since arriving in Asia.

With Premiership rivals Chelsea choosing to spend a fortnight in the United States this month, United may have allowed the London club to gain an advantage on them in the North American market.

However with a huge following in Asia and Africa, David Gill, United chief executive, has admitted that the club's future touring plans will revolve around the Asian and African continents.

"Chelsea over the last few years have been having a great time in America, which is fine, but we do what's right for us and we're comfortable with the opportunities with our history, our ground, our heritage, the way we play football," Gill said.

"Is America ever going to be as passionate as the Asian market? I wouldn't have thought so.

"You see what the following is like over here and you see all the coverage and the amazing support we have. There is huge interest in Premier League football and Manchester United in particular."

Africa on the horizon

"Where next? I think Africa is an interesting one. There's clearly a great following for the Premier League in Africa and we are going back to South Africa next year.

"There may be issues in certain countries, but nonetheless, there's a lot of money in Nigeria for example," Gill added.

"There is a huge following for English football in Nigeria and, as more and more African players come to the Premier League, you can see that getting greater."

United play the third game of the tour when they face Shenzhen FC in Macau on Monday, after which Sir Alex Ferguson's team move on to southern China for a clash with Guangzhou Pharmaceutical on Friday before returning to England.

Source:
Agencies
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