Reigning A-League champions Brisbane Roar will face off against Sydney FC, Newcastle Jets and Northern Fury in a new preseason mini-tournament that brings topflight football back to north Queensland.
Known as the Wingate Townsville Football Cup the competition will kick-off in August between Sunday 24 and Saturday 30.
Sky Blues coach, Graham Arnold, described the nine-day camp with three matches as fantastic preparation for his squad ahead of the 2014-15 campaign.
“The Townsville Football Cup will provide us with an excellent test of our progress just over a month out from the start of the Hyundai A-League season," Arnold said.
“To be playing good quality opposition in a competitive environment is also ideal preparation for us and we are looking forward to the trip.”
As well as marquee games each match-day between the A-League clubs, there will be a curtain-raiser match involving Northern Fury on two match-days and a third, yet to be named team, on the final match-day.
The Mayor of Townsville, Jenny Hay, who announced the tournament said: “This is a wonderful event for Townsville and football fans throughout the North Queensland region.
“We’ve missed A-League football since it was taken away but this is a unique opportunity for fans to see three top teams in action over one week.”
Townsville-based North Queensland Fury joined the Aussie topflight in 2009-10 but was removed from the league after two seasons for financial instability. The club was rebooted in late 2012 as Northern Fury FC and granted a license to take part in the Queensland NPL.
Brisbane Roar Director of Football, Ken Stead, said the champions enjoyed visiting regional areas of the state.
“We know that, with Fury out of the A-League, many supporters have transferred their support – at least temporarily - to Brisbane Roar as the only Queensland team left standing,” Stead said.
“It will be great to meet many of Roar’s North Queensland fans.
“The Townsville Football Cup will be an important part of the preparation for next season when we’ll be getting ready not just for our title defence but also the Asian Champions League in 2015.”
New Newcastle Jets coach, Phil Stubbins, said a nine-day camp was an “ideal” opportunity for his squad to get to know each other outside of training and playing.
“It’s rare for an A-League team to be able to have time away like this for an extended period in pre-season, and it will augur well for our preparation.
“By the end of August, I expect the three clubs will have most of their squad settled also, so the people of Townsville and North Queensland will have one of the first opportunities to see how the teams are faring heading into the A-League’s 10th season.”
Meanwhile inaugural North Queensland Fury coach - now at the helm of Northern Fury - Ian Ferguson, said that he was delighted that three A-League teams would visit Townsville.
“It’s a big step-up for the Northern Fury boys to play an A-League team, but it’s a wonderful opportunity and experience for them," the ex-Perth Glory coach said.
“I hope that football fans from around the region get behind the Townsville Football Cup and show their passion for, and deep knowledge, of the game by actively supporting the tournament.”
Member for Mundingburra and Minister for Local Government, David Crisafulli said that between them, the three clubs have won six of the nine A-League championships so far.
“It’s not very often that anyone gets to see three A-League teams in the one place at the one time,” Crisafulli said.
“We are honoured, privileged and thrilled to be able to welcome Brisbane Roar, Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC to Townsville."
The team with the most points after three matches will win the Cup. If points are equal, the number of goals scored will determine the result.
Northern Fury Chairman, Rabieh Krayem, said Northern Fury, Brisbane Roar, Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC members have until midnight on June 1 to purchase tickets before they go on sale to the general public from Monday June 2 via www.townsvilletickets.com.au
For further information, including ticketing details and the match schedule, visit the event website at www.townsvillefootballcup.com.au
Sunday 24 August
2pm: Northern Fury v Sydney FC
5pm: Brisbane Roar v Newcastle Jets
Wednesday 27 August
5pm: Northern Fury v Brisbane Roar
7.30pm: Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC
Saturday 30 August
5pm: Newcastle Jets v TBA
8pm: Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar