Gill in Jakarta pledge after bomb blasts scuppered United tour plans
19 July 2009 03:00
Chief executive David Gill insists Manchester United would one day like to visit Indonesia after plans to play in Jakarta had to be scrapped.
United were due to spend three days in the capital, and take on an Indonesian Select outfit in front of thousands of adoring fans at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
Instead, those same supporters have been expressing their anger at the terrorists responsible for the attacks that resulted in eight people, including two suicide bombers, being killed and over 50 injured.
Some will be able to make it to Malaysia on Monday when United will tackle a slightly different version of the side Michael Owen's late goal allowed them to record a 3-2 win against in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
But the vast majority must wait for a visit by their favourites, which Gill hopes he can eventually provide.
'Without doubt we would one day like to repay the loyalty of the Indonesian fans,' he said.
'We were looking forward to going there and if we can go back one day we would like to but we can't make a commitment because we only do these major tours every two years. But we will look at it very seriously.'
One distraught fan claimed there were 28 million United fans in Indonesia. That may be a debatable point. Beyond question is that all 73,000 tickets for the game that should have taken place on Monday were sold out three weeks ago.
In addition to the disappointed fans, United have sponsors who will miss out on the team's visit, chief among them the mobile company 3 Indonesia, which was due to sponsor the game.
Tour pledge: United chief executive David Gill hopes the club can one day travel to Jakarta
'It is disappointing on every count,' added Gill.
'We do have partners in Indonesia but they are not with us for one game.
'They are with us for the long term because they believe associating with Manchester United is beneficial to their business.
I am sure we will work with them to address any issues they have. I think they will understand why we have made this decision and will stick with us.'
It is anticipated barely 15,000 will take advantage of the cut-price ticket offer to watch United in Malaysia again, although such is the fervour supporters in the region reserve for their team, a bigger attendance cannot be ruled out.
The Red Devils would have attracted far more - and a guaranteed £1million - if they had taken up an offer to visit Australia.
However, the prospect of a nine-hour flight from Malaysia and then one of over 13 hours back to Seoul, where United are due to play on Friday, made it a non-starter.
'We looked at a number of possibilities, one was bringing the Indonesian side to Malaysia, and also an offer from Australia,' said Gill.
'But realistically, none of it could have been arranged in time and the team wanted another game.'