Liverpool and Manchester United will meet in a high-profile friendly in Bangkok in July, the clubs said on Thursday, as Premier League teams resume lucrative pre-season tours.
After the July 12 clash in the capital, Cristiano Ronaldo and his United team-mates will fly to Australia for two more friendlies, including a clash with Crystal Palace, at the 100,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down overseas tours, usually to Asia and the United States, they were a regular money-spinner for Premier League sides even if managers do not like the travel, hot weather and sometimes questionable pitches.
“It will be the same players as you see now with a few additions if transfer deals happen,” said legendary United striker Andy Cole, predicting the two sides’ historic rivalry would continue in Bangkok.
“I’m not sure it will be played like a pre-season friendly,” he said.
The clash between United and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, currently nipping at the heels of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, at the Rajamangala National Stadium has been dubbed the “Red War” by Thai media and fans.
Both clubs have a strong following in Thailand, with Liverpool shirts and logos especially visible the Anfield outfit’s official Thai language Facebook page has more than 38 million followers.
Former Liverpool defender Phil Babb said he expected Klopp to bring a full-strength squad.
But with tickets ranging from 5,000 to 25,000 baht, (between $12 to $60) many ordinary Thai fans have complained of being priced out of seeing their heroes play in the flesh.
Earlier this month senior officials from the two clubs visited Bangkok to check the facilities at the 51,000-seat ground.
Premier League teams touring Asia in the past have complained about substandard pitches, and photos released by the organisers showed Liverpool general manager Ray Haughan on his knees making a detailed inspection of the turf.
Vinij Lertratanachai, chief executive officer of Fresh Air Festival, which is organising the match, said the stadium would get a “makeover” to meet the clubs’ standards.