TORONTO - Manchester United's first North American Tour in six years got off to a subdued start on Thursday when the world's richest club was left grounded in Chicago by bad weather and forced to delay its arrival in Toronto.
An already short stay in Canada was trimmed to a little more than 24 hours for the Red Devils, who will open their four city tour against Scottish Premier League runners-up Celtic on Friday before leaving for the second leg of the trip the next morning.
The stormy conditions denied organisers an opportunity to promote the match and make one final push to boost ticket sales for an event that is going head-to-head with the Toronto Indy being raced on city streets this weekend.
While the Indy is offering free action, promoters of the Manchester/Celtic friendly are asking fans to fork out between $90-165 for a contest that will be missing the players who represented their countries at the World Cup in South Africa.
Certainly the Red Devils did not receive the type of fanfare normally reserved for the world's most famous football club when they arrive for a match.
Only a handful of reporters, two photographers and two television cameras attended the delayed media briefing that featured just one player, Darren Fletcher.
The Scotland captain appeared to draw the short straw but was not forced to give up much of his time, fielding just five questions before a team media officer abruptly ended the news conference.
"It's great to be here in Toronto and all the players are looking forward to it," Fletcher said. "We're excited to get our first game of the pre-season after 10 days of training all the lads are itching for their first game."
Arriving in Toronto just four days after the World Cup final, Manchester will wrap up their visit in Houston on July 28 by providing the opposition for the Major League Soccer All-Star Game.
In-between, United will take on the Philadelphia Union (July 21) and Kansas City Wizards (July 25) before a trip to Mexico, where they will help Guadalajara open their new stadium (July 30) as part of a deal to sign Mexican striker Javier Hernandez.comments