|By MICHAEL HUGUENIN
Liverpool have confirmed they will visit Australia for the first time and will play a friendly against Melbourne Victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 24.
One of the most-popular English Premier League clubs, Liverpool will travel to Australia for the first time in their 121-year history as part of their pre-season tour of Asia in preparation for the 2013-14 season.
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre revealed the club are very aware of their popularity in Australia and claimed the match at the MCG exemplifies their "commitment" to fans around the world.
"We know we have a large fan base in Australia and New Zealand and this visit shows our commitment to bringing the club closer to our fans all over the globe, no matter how far away from Anfield they may live," Ayre said.
"We are very much looking forward to playing in Melbourne and giving our supporters a chance to see the team up close."
Tuesday's announcement confirmed rumours linking Liverpool to an Australian visit that had surfaced in March.
With an A-League All-Stars team set to play Manchester United in Sydney four days earlier, the friendly between Liverpool and Victory will continue a brilliant week for football in Australia.
Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop believes the two matches will cap off what he considers "the best-ever season" in the A-League's history.
"Liverpool is a famous and hugely popular club but they will find that Melbourne Victory has built an amazing following in just eight seasons," Gallop said.
"The match will showcase all that's good about the A-League after the best-ever season for the standard of play, big crowds and record TV ratings."
Melbourne Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro said Liverpool's decision to play his club is "great recognition" for the two-time A-League champions.
"Liverpool is one of the most famous clubs on the planet and the fact that they've opted to play Melbourne Victory on their first ever tour to Australia is great recognition for our club and the progress we've made in our short history," Di Pietro said.
Tickets for Liverpool versus Melbourne Victory will go on sale on April 11.