For the third straight summer, Liverpool FC are spending pre-season abroad. Following successful tours of Asia in 2011 and North America in 2012, the club will fly halfway around the world to spend some time in Australia and Thailand this coming July. The team will first face A-League club Melbourne Victory on July 24 before heading north to face an as-yet-to-be-named team in Bangkok on July 28.
Liverpool visited Thailand for the third time in 2009, but it's the club's first visit to Australia that has many excited. The team's resident Aussie and childhood Liverpool supporter, Brad Jones, is looking forward to returning home for a visit and claims to have put a bug in the ear of anyone who would listen in order to ensure the trip came to fruition.
"I think it'll be massive," the back-up keeper said. "It's been a while since Australia has had a big English team go over. I can remember as a kid, the likes of Nottingham Forest and teams like that coming over. That was amazing. The fact there are so many Brits out there — never mind how many Scousers there are out there! — will make it a great spectacle and I am sure we can expect a good attendance."
Taking the lead on his second international tour in twelve months, gaffer Brendan Rodgers was enthusiastic on having another opportunity to meet more members of the club's massive global fan base.
"Our support doesn't amaze me now knowing what I know about the football club having been inside it," Rodgers said. "I think the draw and support of the club is absolutely incredible. To have the following in countries like Australia gives us great pride to know that the club really is a worldwide magnet for supporters. Hopefully, we can really enjoy our pre-season preparations there and we're really looking forward to meeting the supporters."
The tours are, obviously, a massive branding exercise for both the club and Standard Chartered. FSG have made no secret about their desire to expand the scope of Liverpool's international brand and Standard Chartered is eager to tap into the Asian market as well, so much so that there were even silly rumours a few seasons back that LFC were going to sign an Asian player simply to appease the sponsor.
Whatever the motive and however impactful these matches might be as preparation for next season, the tours do a good job of giving many fans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see their heroes live. Confirmation as to who will make the long journey is still a long way off, especially given that the Confederations Cup taking place from June 15-30 may delay the availability of the club's Brazilian, Spanish, Uruguayan, and Italian internationals, as was the similar case last summer due to Euro 2012.
At the very least, England's lack of participation in any senior level men's tournament this summer should almost guarantee that Steven Gerrard makes the journey, and any chance to see Captain Fantastic play on your home soil is probably worth it in and of itself.