Man United chief 'sad' at AFC over Asian tour
KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 (Reuters) - Manchester United chief executive David Gill is 'sad and disappointed' that his team are not welcome in Malaysia, according to local media on Thursday.
Gill wrote to Malaysia's Tourism Ministry after the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) bowed to pressure from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which does not want any football event to clash with its flagship tournament, the Asian Cup, from July 7-29.
United were due to play in Kuala Lumpur against a Malaysian select team on July 27, two days before the Asian Cup final in Jakarta.
The AFC and FAM had signed an agreement last year in which the Malaysians were barred from promoting any other football event in July.
'We are extremely sad and disappointed to hear that we are not welcomed,' Gill's letter was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times on Thursday.
'Malaysia is our second home. We played there in 1995, 1999 and 2001 - more than anywhere else in Asia.
'We are proud to come and celebrate (Malaysia's) 50 years of independence and it's a once in a life-time celebration. We were very much looking forward to celebrating with our fans (in Malaysia).'
Malaysian fans also expressed their disappointment.
UPB-Myteam president Khairy Jamaluddin was quoted by the paper as saying: 'I don't think the MU tour will take anything away from the Asian Cup. In Malaysia, we are passionate about football and we cannot get enough of it.'
Lawrence How, president of Malaysia's Manchester United Fan Club, said: 'I am not surprised that (the fans) are upset. You must remember that many of the fans cannot afford to visit Old Trafford to watch United play.'
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong-based promoter of the United tour, which also includes matches in Japan, South Korea and Macau, is confident the Malaysian part of the programme will continue.
'All four legs will go ahead as planned,' Paul Kam, chairman of ProEvents Management Ltd was quoted as saying by Hong Kong's South China Morning Post. 'There is a lot of speculation going on, but everything will be resolved soon.'
The paper said that Macau organisers would cancel ticket sales on June 2 should promoters fail to provide proper assurances that United will play there.