Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal wins battle over US pre-season friendly
Organisers of Manchester United’s summer tour game against San Jose Earthquakes are set to refund over 60,000 supporters after Louis van Gaal won his battle to change the venue of next month’s pre-season friendly amid concerns over the journey time to the clash in California.
United are due to face the MLS outfit on July 21 in the second fixture of the club’s four-game tour of the United States.
But with the encounter just three weeks away, promoters Relevent Sports have agreed to United’s request to move the game from the 62,000-capacity Kabam Field at the University of California in Berkeley to the Earthquakes’ 18,000-capacity Avaya Stadium in San Jose to cut down on the travelling time endured by Van Gaal and his squad.
With United due to base themselves in San Jose, forty miles south of San Francisco, for a week which will see them play the Earthquakes and European champions Barcelona at Levi’s Stadium, the home of San Francisco 48ers, initial plans to play San Jose in Berkeley have now been scrapped.
United would have faced a 90-mile round trip, with the outward journey taking as long as two hours, in order to play the game in Berkeley.
But with Van Gaal criticising the travelling distance experienced by his squad while touring the States last summer, the United manager has insisted on the San Jose clash being relocated to the home stadium of the MLS team.
The move will see more than 44,000 fans who had bought tickets for Kabam Field miss out on the game, but in a statement issued by Cal Athletics, the operators of the University venue, supporters who had already paid for tickets will be refunded.
The statement said, “Our campus representatives were informed by our promotional partner, Relevent Sports, that the Manchester United vs. San Jose Earthquakes match scheduled for July 21 at California Memorial Stadium, has been relocated to Avaya Stadium in San Jose.
“We were informed that the change in venue was made in order to better meet Manchester United’s travel and logistical requirements.
“Those who purchased tickets will be issued a full refund and should expect their refund within 5-7 days.
“In addition, we have been informed by the promoter that those who purchased tickets for the match in Berkeley will be eligible for a special pre-sale opportunity to purchase seats before they go on sale to the general public.”
Van Gaal, who returns to his desk at United’s Aon Training Centre on Thursday, has also claimed victory in his effort to reduce the commercial demands on his players on tour.
United carried more than 100 members of staff on tour last summer, but with Nike’s kit deal due to expire on July 31, the commercial team assigned to the sportswear giant will be left behind in Manchester to prepare for the launch of the £750m Adidas kit deal on August 1.
As a result, Van Gaal and his players will be expected to fulfil fewer commercial obligations in the States