No matter how hot it is, the most highly prized spot in Bournemouth tomorrow will not be a square foot of the sandy beach but a plastic seat at the Goldsands stadium.
There are still those who will not believe it until they see Cristiano Ronaldo jog out of the tunnel in the legendary all-white kit, but Real Madrid are beginning their season at Bournemouth.
The coup by Bournemouth owner Eddie Mitchell drew criticism when he announced a £60 price for most tickets (under-16s are £30, executive seats £80), but they sold out quickly enough with fans queuing through the night. The game came about when Mitchell’s son spoke to a friend who is connected with Real.
Real are expected to field the bulk of those first-team players not involved in the Confederations Cup, meaning Angel de Maria and Kaka could be gracing modest Dean Court as well as Ronaldo. Real are expected to give debuts to new signings Isco and Asier Illarramendi, joint cost £60m. For their part Eddie Howe’s team, newly promoted to the Championship after finishing as runners-up to Doncaster Rovers in League One last year, may include new signings Ian Harte and Elliott Ward, both free transfers.
The match, Real’s first under Carlo Ancelotti, is being broadcast live on Real’s in-house TV channel. Today Bournemouth are involved in another friendly, against Woking, where ticket prices range from £3-8.