A protest by a Malaysian supporter's group has had a significant impact on ticket sales for Tottenham Hotspur's forthcoming post-season friendly in Malaysia. According to The Guardian, with one day to go before the match only 19,000 tickets have been sold for Spurs' match in Kuala Lumpur.
Ultras Malaya have been extremely critical of the Malaysian FA's decision to schedule post-season friendlies against Tottenham on May 27 and Liverpool on July 24 and for a few weeks now have put together a coordinated effort to keep Malaysian fans away from the match. The group is upset that the friendlies against Malaysian XI, a team of players from the Malaysian domestic football league, will have a detrimental effect on the Malaysian national team's training for two upcoming World Cup Qualifying matches against East Timor and Palestine in mid-June. Ultras Malayas leaders are calling the friendlies "circus matches" and questioning both the exposure and the financial impact of the friendlies, and urged fans to tear up free tickets and to refrain from attending the match.
The protest seems to have been effective, as The Guardian reports that only less than 25% of the tickets in the 80,000 seat Shah Alam Stadium have been sold. Organizers hoped that 30,000 fans would attend, but that would still mean less than half the maximum attendance.
The Malaysia XI match is part of a two stop post-season tour to Malaysia and Australia, a rarity for Tottenham who has usually gone overseas in the pre-season. Tottenham, like other major clubs, are very interested in getting a foothold in the Asian market to increase their brand and compete in popularity with clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona, and Real Madrid. It's not clear what sort of financial impact the reduced attendance will have on either the club or the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), which is organizing the event.