Biggest football clubs in the world are headed to Australia

TEN years ago, if you had said teams such as Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Manchester City would be playing in Australia in a pre-season tournament, you would have probably been laughed at.

But organisers of the International Champions Cup are confident some of those the global giants will play in the competition when it expands Down Under in 2015.

Some might says that this tournament is just a pre-season kickabout, but you only have to look at the crowds for the games in the US in August to realise just how important this can be for the continued growth of the game in this country.

The game between Manchester United and Real Madrid at Michigan Stadium had an attendance of 109,318 - a record crowd for a soccer match in the US.

We have already seen how Australians support their football. When Liverpool played in a pre-season friendly at the MCG last year against Melbourne Victory, a crowd of 95,446 - a record for a football match in Australia - attended, so as they say, "if you build it, they will come".

The next few months will probably one of the most important periods of football in this country, both at domestic and international level, and securing the International Champions Cup will go a long way to improving the standing of the game Down Under.

In his state of football address back in September, Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop laid down the plan for football in this country and he, like a number of others, is expecting big things over the next few months and years.

"This exciting period for Australian football is book-ended by two major global events ... the FIFA World Cup in Brazil earlier this year and the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada next year," he said in his address.

"Having the Socceroos and Westfield Matildas at World Cups creates a wonderful halo around Australian football and showcases what it means for Australia to be a part of the world game.

"There are other major factors at play to make this a remarkable time for the game."

I have to agree with Gallop about the future of the game and there is no doubt he has been one of the major catalysts for turning things around.

The Victorian Government is attempting to organise three games of International Champions Cup. The matches would take place on July 25, 29 and 31 at the MCG as it is believed demand for tickets would exceed the 54,000-seat capacity of Etihad Stadium.

The Victorian Cabinet has agreed to pursue those events and I for one hope it gets what it wants. How good would it be for some of the world's best stars to grace our biggest and best sporting venue?


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