Rent finalized for stadium set to host Vietnam-Arsenal friendly

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Can Van Nghia (L), director of the My Dinh National Sports Complex which manages the stadium scheduled to host the friendly between Arsenal and Vietnam's National Football Team, at a press conference on Monday. Photo: Ngo Nguyen

Organizers of the friendly between English Premier League Club Arsenal and Vietnam's National Football Team and managers of the host stadium finally agreed to a rental price Tuesday, putting an end to their heated negotiations.

Nguyen Lan Trung, deputy chairman of Vietnam Football Federation (VFF), one of the organizers, confirmed with Thanh Nien on Wednesday that the finalized figure was VND800 million (US$38,024).

Apart from the rent, the contract stipulates that the stadium managers will only be given 50 complimentary tickets to the July 17 match, as opposed to the 300 the latter had previously demanded.

However, Trung said the rental agreement between VFF and My Dinh National Sports Complex (which manages the 40,000-seat stadium) could not be signed Wednesday morning as had been planned because the two sides are still arguing about how 220 VIP seats will be divided. The stadium managers want half those seats reserved for them.

Trung said he expects that the matter will be resolved, allowing the contract to be signed by both sides on Thursday.  

"The rental price was agreed to by both sides; it's affordable for VFF and meets the requirements of the sports complex," said Vuong Bich Thang, director of General Department of Sports and Physical Training, after Tuesday's negotiation session.

The agreement came one day after the sports complex's director, Can Van Nghia, reportedly demanded a rental price of VND1.5 billion, seven times the usual price, and rejected the VND600 million offered by VFF, saying the stadium had to be upgraded to make it commensurately "imposing" and "glistening."

Nghia has told local media that the cost for upgrading the grass field alone is VND1 billion.

But a former leader of the sports complex said on condition of anonymity that the My Dinh National Stadium field underwent nearly VND5 billion in renovations at the end of last year.

The government contributed VND2.5 billion to the renovation, while stadium management provided the rest.

He said Nghia's reasoning was "completely unacceptable," since the field cannot be continuously upgraded, adding that renovations are always included in the complex's budget.

Due to the "inflated price" demanded by the stadium managers, a member of the organizing committee had suggested that the match either be moved to another stadium or cancelled outright.

But with such dire possibilities looming, Nguyen Trong Hy, VFF's chairman, said last week that the match would definitely take place at My Dinh Stadium as scheduled and that the rent would have to be reduced.

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Echoing Hy, an Arsenal spokesperson told Thanh Nien News via email on Monday: "We are very confident that the game will go ahead and we are looking forward to becoming the first Premier League team to play in Vietnam."

The July 17 game with Vietnam's National Football Team is part of Arsenal's pre-season tour of Asia and was organized by VFF, Eximbank and Vietnamese real estate giant Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group. Eximbank and Hoang Anh Gia Lai have provided a majority of the funding.

Tickets for the game cost VND400,000-1.5 million ($19-$71) each. Vietnam's 2012 annual per capita income was $1,555.

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