Date: 29th February 2012 at 10:40am
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Arsenal have confirmed a lucrative pre season friendly with Manchester City, to be played in Beijing`s opulent Bird Nest Stadium. The match will take place on Friday, 27th July at 8pm local time. (If my understanding is correct, that translates into 12noon GMT). Last season marked the first time Arsenal had given marketing priority over footballing preparations for the season ahead with a three match tour of China and Malaysia.

This summer will see Arsenal return to Asia as they plan to boost their global profile with all important commercial contracts to be renegotiated in 2014. You have to believe a match with Manchester City- themselves keen to boost their commercial operation in deference to FFP- will constitute some part of a tour. Rumours were rife of a summer tour of Nigeria, where Arsenal apparently have more fans proportionately speaking than they do in the UK. But civil troubles in the region may just have put the kybosh on that for now.

Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis said, “We enjoy huge support in Asia and by playing a match in Beijing, we will once again be bringing the Club close to our loyal fans in China. The players and staff had an amazing time in China last year and we are all looking forward to visiting this great country again in July.

“The match against Manchester City is sure to be an exciting spectacle, with many great players from both sides playing in front of thousands of supporters in the wonderful ‘Bird`s Nest` Stadium.”
Which, roughly translates as, “We hope this tour will see us earn a fat stack of cheese.” Arsenal`s tour of the region last summer is thought to have earned the club in the region of £3m, but the legacy costs will probably yield sufficiently more. LD.