Manchester United could play in Singapore next year

Sports Hub chief executive officer Manu Sawhney.
Sports Hub chief executive officer Manu Sawhney. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

English football giants Manchester United could grace the National Stadium pitch some time next year.

Sports Hub chief executive officer Manu Sawhney, who is also a United director, revealed in an interview with The Straits Times yesterday that discussions have taken place between officials from the Sports Hub and the Premier League club.

"I hosted United's commercial director (Jamie Reigle) at our facility and he was blown away by the place - I told him that it is my absolute dream to bring the Red Devils to Singapore," said Mr Sawhney, 48.

"We want to bring the team to Asia more often. Sitting on the board of directors, I am encouraging them to do that. There is a clear intent to do that and put the Sports Hub on the global map."

United have been struggling for a winning formula since the departure of legendary manager Alex Ferguson in 2013, but they reportedly still boast over 600 million fans across the globe.

The Red Devils have toured the United States four times in the last six years, but have not embarked on a full Asian tour since visiting Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand in 2013.

The first-team squad last visited Singapore in 2001, beating a Singapore selection 8-1 in a friendly match at the old National Stadium in Kallang.

If United do come, it is more likely to happen next year, as the National Day Parade and other build-up activities will be held at the Sports Hub in July and August this year, the months when European teams typically embark on pre-season overseas tours.

It is believed that Spanish club Valencia, owned by Singapore billionaire Peter Lim, are also in talks to play at the National Stadium in the last week of May.

Sanjay Nair

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2016, with the headline 'Man U could play in S'pore next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe