|By JOHN GRECO
English giants Manchester United are set to tour Australia in 2013 to play a friendly match against an A-League all-star team in Sydney.
The FFA have confirmed the tour at a press conference in Sydney on Monday morning local time.
The Red Devils, who sit six points atop the English Premier League after their 3-2 win over local rivals Manchester City on Sunday, last visited Australia 13 years ago where they played two matches against the Australia national team.
The match will be played at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on July 20, just three days after the third State of Origin match at the same venue.
"I'm absolutely delighted that Australian fans will get to see the Red Devils in action against the best A-League players. It's a massive opportunity for our players and one the fans won't want to miss," FFA chief executive officer David Gallop said via statement.
The timing of the match means local-based Socceroos may not play, with the game coming just weeks after three vital AFC 2014 World Cup qualifiers. The East Asian Cup tournament, in which Australia clinched qualification on Sunday, also begins that day.
But the likes of Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero, former England international Emile Heskey and fellow foreign stars like Marcos Flores, Thomas Broich and Shane Smeltz could all combine in the side.
While the last time United came to Australia the likes of David Beckham, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes did not travel, it is understood the deal is reliant on all the club's big guns being involved.
It means the club's best players, such as Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Rio Ferdinand and veteran Ryan Giggs, should all make the trip, which is likely to ensure a sell-out crowd of 82,000 at the Olympic stadium.
"We are delighted to accept the invitation from the New South Wales Government and Football Federation Australia to visit one of the world's truly great cities," United chief executive David Gill said via statement.
"There are three main reasons we go on pre-season tour. First and foremost is the team’s preparation for the season ahead. But the tour also allows us to engage with our global fan base and network of commercial partners.
"It has been a while since we last visited Sydney and we are looking forward to renewing our relationship with our loyal and enthusiastic Australian fans."