The LONDON TIMES reports that Glazer family-owned Manchester United is set to play an exhibition game tonight in Saudi Arabia which will net the club nearly $2M. The match at the 65,000-seat King Fahd Stadium sold out three days after tickets went on sale.
By scheduling the game in the middle of the team’s already-packed regular season schedule (and the Saudis long-documented ties to terrorism) the club has been besieged by criticism from the team’s fans.
While public reaction was rather predictable, the defense of the move by Man Utd CEO David Gill was not.
The Times reports that Gill has “launched an impassioned defence of the decision” for the road game and has “denied that money is the motivating factor.”
The game is intended to be a tribute to venerable Saudi national team member Sami Al Jaber (in case you’re wondering, Jaber has no ties to Man U whatsoever).
Gill said Man Utd “never makes any decision that, in our opinion, will harm the push for honours” during the English Premier League season.
To put this into perspective, can you imagine the Yankees or Patriots making a trip overseas for an exhibition game in the middle of the season? How come the Glazers don’t do that with the Buccaneers?