Crowds down for Real and ManU games

Manchester United chief executive David Gill last night insisted the club's popularity is not slipping - despite less than 25,000 fans turning up for the second match of their Far East tour. Although United's, three-country trip has been received far more positively than the Real Madrid outfit they have followed round Asia - and is expected to net them around £3 million - the crowds have not been as large as on their last trip to the region four years ago and their welcome has been less frenzied.

Saturday's gate for the 2-0 win over Hong Kong was 8000 down on their last visit, while the Workers Stadium was not even a third full for Tuesday's 3-0 win over Beijing Hyundai.

"Clearly, last night's crowd was disappointing. There are various factors behind that, which will be investigated. But we were very pleased with the crowd in Hong Kong and we are confident there will be good crowds for our final two matches. What is happening on this tour does not lead us to the conclusion popularity in us is waning," Gill said as quoted by The Daily Record.

"Real Madrid may have packed in a larger audience in Beijing but the first, dreadfully disappointing match of their Japanese tour brought 31,000 to the National Stadium, where they suffered a 3-0 defeat against a club lying next to bottom in the J-League", The Telegraph commented.

"Last night's encounter, a 3-1 victory over Jubilo Iwata featuring two goals from Ronaldo and some lovely touches from Beckham, was rather more satisfactory."