Coronavirus plays out, Red Devils preseason Asia tour in jeopardy

Manchester United have almost sealed the deal to take on East Bengal in Salt lake Stadium on July 26

Manchester United, ILeague, East Bengal, Coronavirus
Manchester United's Jesse Lingard takes part in a warm weather training camp. Photo: Twitter

Manchester United’s preseason trip to Asia is likely to be stalled as some of the Asian countries have been being hit by the deadly coronavirus.

The Red Devils had planned to promote the sport and their club-themed entertainment centres in the cities of China — Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang — which have the virus threat. There is no official statement from Manchester United yet, but amid coronavirus scare, the tour seems to be a dream now.

Manchester United had left out Odion Ighalo, who has recently transferred from China, of the warm weather training camp scheduled to be played in Marbella, Spain: “Odion (Ighalo) will stay in Manchester because he arrived from China in the last 14 days. Because of the situation in China, we’re not sure if he’d be allowed back into England if he leaves the country again,” said Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Coronavirus, a deadly virus strain, due to which nearly 1,000 people across the world have died.

The Premier League teams seem to be cautious about the vigorous spread of the virus across the world. Of the six seasons, Manchester United played four seasons in the United States. If the situation in Asia doesn’t improve, they would spend their preseason friendlies in United States.

India might as well miss a golden chance of hosting Manchester United if their plans to play in the Asian cities are junked.

Manchester United has almost sealed the deal of playing against East Bengal in Salt Lake, Kolkata on July 26, to mark the club’s centenary celebrations.

In 2019, a four-man team from Manchester United inspected Salt Lake stadium before finalising on the venue for the match. United officials decided to play an exhibition match after considering the pitch conditions. But, East Bengal was looking desperately looking for a sponsor to pay the match fee, which was reported as more than ₹30 crore. This trip to India would be a first for Manchester United.

Top-flight La Liga club Girona FC had already played India’s ISL team Kerala Blasters at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kerala in July 2018. Before that, Bundesliga’s top club Bayern Munich played the Indian national team under the tutelage of Bhaichung Bhutia in 2012.

I-League title this year would be a dream for East Bengal, but the fans had one reason to get excited about the centenary match.

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