Thursday 30 May 2013

Barclays Asia Trophy 2013 set to be the 'best-ever'

Managers and players look forward to the sixth Barclays Asia Tropy in Hong Kong

After the success of the 2011 Barclays Asia Trophy, this year's tournament in Hong Kong promises to be an even bigger and better experience for the clubs taking part and the fans that will come to watch the action and sample the atmosphere of the Premier League.

The event, the only Premier League competition to be held outside England, takes place between 24-27 July and this year features Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland as well as Hong Kong First Division champions South China.

It is the sixth time the tournament has taken place and the third time that Hong Kong has been chosen as hosts.

"We want as many supporters as possible to enjoy the Premier League experience"
Richard Scudamore

"The HKFA is proud and honoured to be hosting the 2013 Barclays Asia Trophy. When the event was in Hong Kong in 2011 it was hugely popular and a very exciting tournament," Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) CEO Mark Sutcliffe said. "The 2013 competition promises to be even more entertaining.

"To have two of the top five teams in, arguably the best league in the world, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, playing in Hong Kong is a rare privilege. The third team, Sunderland, will also be a big draw with their passionate new manager.

"Football in Hong Kong is undergoing a revival at present and we look forward to our league winners South China testing themselves against some of the best players to have ever pulled on a football shirt. It will be a good barometer of how far we have progressed in recent times, as well as being a real thrill for local fans."

Tickets for the eagerly anticipated event go on sale on Friday and Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore believes Hong Kong will be a "fantastic" setting.

"Last time in 2011 was our best-ever tournament and a key factor in that was the atmosphere created by the fans in the packed Hong Kong Stadium," Scudamore said. "So that's why, again, we have made the tournament accessible and affordable over the two days. We want as many supporters as possible to enjoy the Premier League experience.

"The Barclays Premier League season has just ended but we can't wait for the next one to start because it promises to be so exciting. We've never had a situation where the teams in the top three all have new managers the next season, so the 2013/14 season is going to be unpredictable. And the Barclays Asia Trophy is the perfect curtain-raiser for that drama because we have three teams who play exciting football."

"It's an excellent tournament and it’s something that we’re looking forward to going to"
Andre Villas-Boas

One person who knows what it is like to win the Barclays Asia Trophy in Hong Kong is Tottenham Hotspur head coach Andre Villas-Boas. He won the 2011 tournament in charge of his previous club, Chelsea. He takes to Hong Kong a Spurs side who triumphed in the 2009 Barclays Asia Trophy in Beijing, so there is winning pedigree in the ranks of the North London men.

"The Barclays Asia Trophy lets you step up a level in terms of opposition because of the teams involved in it," Villas-Boas said. "It gives us the opportunity to go abroad and continue our preparation with good facilities. I’ve been involved before with Chelsea, and it’s an excellent tournament and it’s something that we’re looking forward to going to."

This is also a second appearance in the Barclays Asia Trophy for Manchester City, having previously been in the 2005 tournament. City captain Vincent Kompany is also delighted to return to Hong Kong but says they will not just be going there as tourists.

"With the interest in social media now, whether it is Twitter of Facebook is global, people all over the world are involved in the Barclays Premier League," Kompany said. "It's very important that we can go and represent the colours of Manchester City abroad.

"It’s sort of an adventure for us: we travel to different places and we meet a lot of different cultures, so it’s an experience in itself. But that is always good for team building and the Barclays Asia Trophy is a very important part in how we prepare for the new season.” 

Debutants Sunderland are the 15th Premier League team to feature in the Barclays Asia Trophy debut and the tournament has significance for head coach Paolo Di Canio before his first full season in the Barclays Premier League.

"We are going to play very important games that give us the opportunity to test ourselves at the top level"
Paolo Di Canio

"We are going to play very important games that give us the opportunity to test ourselves at the top level," he said. "There are many people who don’t have a chance to watch top level football, and the fact that every summer Premier League clubs go that area of the world gives hundreds of thousands a chance to see them. This is why the Barclays Asia Trophy is important."

South China are takijng part in their second Barclays Asia Trophy, having competed in Hong Kong in 2007 alongside Liverpool, Portsmouth and Fulham.

South China FC chairman Steven Lo said: "It is especially meaningful to South China fans that we can meet our club partner Tottenham Hotspur again in the match here, not to mention the much-expected top Premier League teams Manchester City and Sunderland in Hong Kong."

The tournament will be officiated by Barclays Premier League Match Officials and HKFA Match Officials, and will also be staged in accordance with Barclays Premier League Rules. The two Select Group referees coming to Hong Kong are Anthony Taylor and Neil Swarbrick. Both Anthony and Neil will be supporting the British Council in running a Premier Skills course for match officials in Hong Kong. 

Barclays is the title sponsor of the Asia Trophy for the fourth time. Robert Morrice, Chairman and CEO, Barclays Asia said: "The Barclays Premier League is hugely popular here in Hong Kong, with tens of thousands of supporters watching games on TV every weekend. However, to have the Barclays Asia Trophy return to Hong Kong for the third time gives fans another great opportunity to see some of the stars of the Barclays Premier League up close."

The other commercial partners for the Barclays Asia Trophy are Nike, EA Sports, Carlsberg, Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi Tourism, Audi and Now TV.  To keep fans up to date with the latest news on the Barclays Asia Trophy 2013, the Premier League has created a Facebook page in Cantonese at www.facebook.com/premierleague

Barclays Asia Trophy 2013 fixtures

Wednesday 24 July 2013
Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland, kick-off 6pm (11am BST)
Manchester City v South China, kick-off 8.30pm (1.30pm BST)

Saturday 27 July 2013
3rd-place play-off, kick-off 6pm (11am BST)
Final, kick-off 8.30pm (1.30pm BST)

  • Having won the 2011 Barclays Asia Trophy, Andre Villas-Boas will return to Hong Kong

  • Man City, Spurs, Sunderland and South China will look to win the trophy claimed by Chelsea

  • The magnificent 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium will host the four-team tournament

  • Fans will get to see two matches with Premier League clubs each day

  • For the fans it is a chance to see their heroes in action in the flesh

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