ManU Confirms Australian Preseason Trip, Game Against A-League All Stars On July 20
ManU has confirmed that it "will travel to Sydney next summer to play the Australian A-League All Stars," 14 years after its last trip Down Under, according to Emily Benammar of the London TELEGRAPH. The last time ManU traveled to Australia, Manager Alex Ferguson "left the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville in the U.K., but organisers have suggested that the Scot will bring his full squad" for the July 20 match meaning Australian football fans "will have the opportunity to see Wayne Rooney, Nani and Robin van Persie in action." ManU CEO David Gill said, "The game and training camp that will take place in Sydney will be an important part of the team’s preparation for the 2013-14 season." Football Federation Australia "confirmed that the A-League All Stars would be selected by fans and, much to the excitement of United veteran Ryan Giggs, it could feature Sydney FC's Italian star Alessandro Del Piero." The squad "could also feature former Premier League striker Emile Heksey who joined the Newcastle Jets on a one-year deal in September" (TELEGRAPH, 12/10). In Sydney, Michael Chammas reported FFA CEO David Gallop "fired his first shot at the game he once ran, announcing football's major coup just an hour after State of Origin tickets went on sale." The ManU players "will demand the headlines when they touch down in Sydney on the eve of rugby league's showcase event for a game against the fan-voted A-League All Stars, a concept Gallop introduced during his time in the National Rugby League." Coincidence? Maybe. However, the "wry smile on Gallop's face when Fairfax Media commented on the timing of the announcement suggested it may have been more tactical than coincidental." Gallop said, "I think it's massive to have the most-famous football club in the world coming out here. It's an opportunity for us to launch the All Stars concept, and part of that will be giving fans a say in selection." The New South Wales government "has splashed out A$3M ($3.2M) to lure Ferguson's side to Sydney and said it expected to recoup that outlay fivefold, suggesting the match will generate some A$15M in revenue." ANZ Stadium "invested A$3M on grow lights from the Netherlands last season to help the surface cope with the rigours of winter." Ensuring the surface is at its best for the most-famous club in the world "will be a priority, and stadium officials are confident it will be in pristine condition" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 12/11).
UNITED HAS THE UPPER HAND: In Sydney, Michael Chammas also reported when former ManU striker Dwight Yorke was asked "how the best of the A-League would fare against the Red Devils," which last played in Australia in '99, Yorke "was brutally honest in his assessment of how the match would pan out." Yorke said, "A full-strength Man United … I've got to be honest, it's not going to be easy for the A-League guys. They are going to find it extremely difficult, but I'm sure it's a great experience for some of these guys who may not have the opportunity to play against these world-class players like Wayne Rooney and Van Persie. People like Giggsy and Scholesy are still there'' (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 12/11). Also in Sydney, Ray Gatt reported Yorke "laughed off suggestions the trip would be a holiday for the 19-time English champion club." Yorke said, "Not at all. It's a serious part of the preseason for them. They'll have five or six days in camp in Sydney. It will be very intense." Yorke said that "he would not knock back the chance to coach the All Stars if asked, although it would seem Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou and Central Coast Mariners boss Graham Arnold would be the frontrunners" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/11).