The Queensland Champions Cup looms as crucial of Premier League season preparations for Aston Villa and Leeds.
The earlier start to next season’s English Premier League season will ensure Aston Villa and Leeds United treat their July trip to Queensland as anything but a “holiday”.
As revealed on Wednesday by News Corp Australia, Villa and Leeds will meet at Suncorp Stadium on July 17 as part of a three-team series – the Queensland Champions Cup – that will also include A-League club Brisbane Roar.
Matches will also be played on the Gold Coast and in Townsville, with Roar to meet Leeds at Cbus Super Stadium on July 14 and Villa at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on July 20.
Following their visit to Australia, the Villa and Leeds squads will return home to ready themselves for the Premier League season, which starts at the earlier-than-usual date of August 6 due to the break that will occur to accommodate the November-December FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“The tour comes at a crucial stage of our pre-season so the fitness program and the games are important,” Villa manager and former Liverpool star Steven Gerrard said.
“We are absolutely delighted to be visiting Australia for the first time in the club’s history.”
Leeds manager Jesse Marsch said the tour was an “important part” of his side’s preparations for the 2022-23 season.
“This will be our club’s third playing trip to Australia and I’m very much looking forward to taking the team back,” Marsch said.
Queensland Tourism and Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the series would inject $7m into the state’s economy.
“The English Premier League is among global football’s best competitions, bringing two top teams to Queensland demonstrates our reputation as a world-class events destination,” Hinchliffe said.
The series will also be a “fresh” start for the Roar after what has been a poor 2021-22 A League campaign.
Roar coach Warren Moon said: “We’re not going to sit here and make excuses about scheduling and Covid – we also made mistakes as a group and as a club.
“We’ve learnt a lot and we’ve got a fresh mindset. The best thing about these games is they bring excitement about how we’re starting our preparations for the new season.
“It’s going to be a challenge but it gives the boys something to focus on early on and hopefully it’s the start of a much better campaign next season.”
Socceroos great and former Blackburn Rovers, Southampton and West Ham winger Robbie Slater predicted the Villa-Leeds Suncorp Stadium clash to match the intensity of a regular season English Premier League battle.
“You’re up for a treat Queenslanders,” Slater said.
“If anyone thinks they (Villa and Leeds) are coming here for a holiday, they are not. They’re going to be in full preparation for the Premier League.”