(WFI) Manchester United will take on Major League Soccer opposition for the first time in the club’s history when they embark on a tour of the US this summer. The club’s three-country pre-season trip also includes games in Canada and Mexico.
The 2009 English Premier League champions take on the expansion Philadelphia Union at Lincoln Financial Field on July 21 and the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium on July 25. They then play the MLS All-Stars in a game on July 28 at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.
“Manchester United are among the most recognized and successful clubs in the world, and we are pleased to have them compete against our All-Stars and two MLS clubs this summer,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said.
“We are proud to once again present our supporters with one of the most compelling All-Star game formats in sports and we believe Manchester United’s North American tour will be a tremendous celebration of the sport following the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.”
Before the MLS friendlies, United will take part in a training camp in Chicago, home of new shirt sponsors Aon. They then play Scottish giants Celtic at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 16.
Two days later, as already announced, the squad will play the club’s first ever match in Mexico to open Chivas’ new 45,000-seat stadium in Guadalajara.
“It’s great to be going back to North America,” United boss Alex Ferguson said.
“I enjoyed the last two tours there in 2003 and 2004 immensely. The quality of the facilities is outstanding and there is real enthusiasm in the crowds. It’s especially pleasing to be going in a World Cup year, when interest in football will be at its height.”
United attracted huge crowds on the two occasions they played at Lincoln Financial Field. For their Barcelona clash in 2003 they drew 68,396; the following year they played Celtic in front of 55,421 fans.
United stars Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand will miss the trip due to their involvement in England’s World Cup campaign in South Africa.
The 18-time English champions said on Thursday that the squad will be headed by United legend Ryan Giggs and include Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar, Darren Fletcher, Antonio Valencia, John O’Shea, Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov.
These experienced heads will be complemented by a clutch of promising
young players such as Federico Macheda and the da Silva twins.
Glazers reject £1.5bn offer for club
This summer’s pre-season tour is the club’s first trip across the Atlantic under the American ownership of the Glazer family.
Today’s announcement comes as news emerges that the Glazer family have rejected a £1.5 billion ($2.2bn) bid for the club from a Middle East consortium along with several other bids valuing the club at more than £1bn in recent months.
It appears to show that the Glazers have no intention to sell any time soon and deals a major blow to takeover plans being prepared by the Red Knights, the group of wealthy businessmen led by Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill and Seymour Pierce stockbroker Keith Harris.
They had only valued the club at £800m, a long way short of the bids already rejected.
The Glazer family’s reluctance to accept the £1.5 billion bid will upset United supporters who have waged a vociferous campaign to oust the club’s American owners over mounting debts and lack of investment.
Fans have made their feelings very clear by sporting green and gold scarfs, the colours of United’s predecessors Newton Heath, which have become the symbol of the anti-Glazer protest and at Old Trafford this season.
reporting from WFI editor Mark Bisson ([email protected])
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