English giants could arrive between the second week of July and mid-August
The Malta Tourism Authority are currently working on plans to bring over to Malta English Premier League giants Manchester United on a pre-season training camp, the Times of Malta can confirm.
In September 2019, the Malta Tourism Authority had signed an agreement with the English club that would see Malta become an official destination partner for the three-times European champions until 2022.
The Times of Malta had reported during that time that the MTA were stepping up their efforts to bring over the Red Devils to Malta but their aspirations were scuppered with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced them to shelve their plans.
Johann Buttigieg, Chief Executive Officer at the Malta Tourism Authority, confirmed to The Times of Malta, that talks with the English Premier League side are back on track and are hopeful of sealing up a deal in the coming weeks.
“I can confirm that we are currently in talks with Manchester United to bring them over to Malta for a pre-season training camp,” Buttigieg told the Times of Malta.
“As you might understand I cannot delve a lot of information as talks are ongoing but we are working hard to attract such a prestigious club to our country.”
Asked on the dates of the proposed training camp, Buttigieg said that given the busy sporting schedule the club’s player have this summer there is a restricted timeframe on when the tour will happen.
“Given the busy sporting schedule of this summer, the timeframe we have is between the second week of July and the second week of August,” Buttigieg said.
Should the talks are successful, it would be the fifth time that Manchester United would be visiting Malta.
The English club enjoyed a huge fan base in Malta where they have the oldest supporters club in the world.
In 1961, the team played a friendly match against a Malta XI selection.
Six years later, the Red Devils, guided by the legendary Sir Matt Busby, faced Hibernians in the first round of the Champions Cup at the old Gżira Stadium. The second leg fixture ended goalless as United went through to the next round 4-0 on aggregate. That same season, United went on to become European champions for the first time.
In 1987, United were back in Malta to play a friendly against Naxxar Lions and their last visit dates to 2000 when manager Alex Ferguson conducted a short training camp in the summer during which they played a friendly against Birkirkara at the National Stadium.
Sources close to the English Premier League club have also confirmed on the negotiations.
“The club are currently working on plans to bring over Manchester United to Malta,” the sources said.
“Malta is a logical destination for the club given that United cannot embark on a pre-season outside Europe again.
“However, the plans are at the mercy of the UK government restrictions. That said, given the successful vaccine rollout in the UK and the falling cases, you would imagine they will be able to get out there in late July.”
At the moment, the United Kingdom population are only permitted travelling for essential reasons but Malta has been identified as a possible inclusion in the UK government’s ‘green list’ for countries to travel to without having to quarantine. The K government is due to confirm the green list countries on May 17.
Manchester United’s training camp to Malta is part of a sports tourism strategy being implement by MTA and Buttigieg confirmed that there are other other teams from England Germany and Denmark who could come to Malta this year for a training camp.
““With Malta being one of the safest countries at the moment in the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a number of requests from several clubs who would like to come to Malta for a training camp apart from Manchester United,” Buttigieg said.
“In fact, we have had a request from another Premier League club as well as two teams who currently ply their trade in the Bundesliga 2. We are also looking at the Danish market but this is all part of our strategy to develop sports tourism as one of the strongest pillars of our economy.”