Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Reds Still Leave Chelsea Feeling Blue in Malaysia

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Reds Still Leave Chelsea Feeling Blue in Malaysia

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Rich in Kuala Lumpur

LIKE so many places across the Far East, Malaysia is a country that puts a high premium on brands, especially those that proclaim success. Across the way from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where Manchester United made their base here two years ago, Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany's have their boutiques.

Roman Abramovich's Chelsea are a football brand that are about the relentless and ruthless pursuit of success. And yet, despite the fact that only Chelsea can rival United in the collection of silverware in recent seasons and are now embarking on their third tour of Asia in eight years, their impact seems so much less than it was for United in 2009, which is perhaps understandable. Rather more mystifying is the fact Liverpool are still box office out here.

When Kenny Dalglish took training at the stadium, 38,700 turned up to watch. The match itself -- which saw Liverpool beat a Malaysia All Stars team 6-3 -- practically sold out its 84,000 capacity. For Arsenal last week, it was perhaps a third full.

Liverpool's assistant manager, Steve Clarke, who had toured the Far-East with Chelsea in 2008, said he was taken aback by how many teenagers, who were not born when Liverpool last won the title in 1990, were crowding into his hotel foyer.

"It is a bit surprising," he said. "You'd think all the top clubs, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, would have an equal share out here but when Liverpool were top of the tree in the 1970s and early 1980s was when television first came into Asia.

"Everyone wanted to follow the successful team and that was Liverpool and so that generation are all big Liverpool fans and their children are big Liverpool fans."

Chelsea and Arsenal are coming from a long way back. Unlike Ken Bates at Chelsea, Liverpool were slow to see the possibilities of the corporate market. …

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