The organizers had failed to pay an appearance fee on time, Chinese media said.
Barcelona also ditched their game in Shanghai this month “after coming to the conclusion that it could not be played in perfect conditions,” the club said.
Julian Jackson, of the sports marketing agency Total Sports Asia, said there is “a fairly easy reason” why China had not got in on the Premier League jamboree.
The league’s failure to strike a deal to have games shown on China’s all-powerful state broadcaster CCTV means it simply does not have the same following as elsewhere in the soccer-mad region, he said.
“Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand traditionally have stronger support for the teams that come here,” Jackson said. “They’ve had every single match on television for the last six or seven years. China, on the other hand, is just really dipping its toes into the Premier League.”
Lewis Hannam, founder of Red Lantern Digital Media, a company which helps sports brands and athletes such as Wayne Rooney promote themselves in China using new media, said Hong Kong was a compromise option.
“China is still a maturing market in terms of holding sports events,” Hannam said. “Ticket prices for games featuring teams from overseas are often over-priced in relation to local incomes, thus leading to underwhelming attendances, while the infrastructure and practicalities of business in China often make the prospect of having a pre-season tour something of a headache. Certainly, China will always seem an attractive prospect for foreign teams, but Hong Kong is perhaps seen as the safer access point to that market for now.”