Monday, July 20, 2009

Liverpool players arrive in Thailand

After months of frenzied excitement, Liverpool's fanatical supporters in Thailand are finally able to see their Kop idols in the flesh after Rafael Benitez and his squad arrived in Bangkok on Monday for the first leg of their Asian tour.

Following a 10 hour flight from Vienna, the Reds' party touched down in the Thai capital at 3pm local time before travelling to their luxury hotel, at which Benitez, Jamie Carragher and Ryan Babel will appear at a welcome press conference later today. The Reds will be in Thailand for the next three days, with the highlight being a sold out fixture against the national team on Wednesday, before jetting off to Singapore for the second leg of their visit to south east Asia. With the kick-off to the new Barclays Premier League season just four weeks away, the emphasis over the next eight days will be very much on fitness and conditioning of the players, but the club will also be taking the opportunity to engage with local fans and give many of them a once in a lifetime chance to meet their heroes. "It's always difficult deciding where to go on tour because we have so many fans all over the world," said Commercial Director Ian Ayre. "But we feel by choosing Thailand and Singapore we are capturing most of south east Asia and making it possible for fans from other countries to come and see the team. "Both countries are traditional hot-beds of support for Liverpool and I know from speaking to our partners out here how excited everyone has been waiting for us to arrive. "We are very excited to be here and are very much looking forward to our stay."
They will enjoy early morning and evening training sessions away from the glare of the searing midday sun, several commercial events also have been planned as the Reds look to take every possible opportunity to make as many friends as possible in this part of the world. "We are aware of the excitement out here about our arrival and that's great, but it's been important for us in the planning of the tour to find the right balance between the football and commercial sides," added Ayre. "I have worked very closely with Sammy Lee, who has then fed through to Rafa, on the football side and when they chose when they wanted the players to be training we planned the rest of the itinerary from there. Liverpool Football Club is about doing well in its core competitions and with the new season soon to start we know how crucial this period is for Rafa and his staff. "The two games will be great occasions, especially as the promoters of the tour have recreated the Kop end at both stadiums. Tickets for those ends sold out immediately so that just shows you the level of excitement which has been building. "A lot of work has gone into the planning of this tour, but the reward will be when the players run out to packed stadiums in both countries over the next few days." And, mindful of criticism of other clubs in the recent past who have been accused of planning worldwide tours purely for financial reward, Ayre insists Liverpool's aim will be to leave a long-lasting impression on Thailand and Singapore over the next week. "We have a duty to contribute to these football markets and to our supporters over here," he added. "We have in place a strong legacy programme encompassing many different initiatives and which can be broken down into different areas. "For example, we have a knowledge transfer programme at which Rafa will meet coaches from Thailand and Singapore, I will be meeting representatives from the local businesses and the medical team will also be having sessions. "We will be running a kids programme with open training sessions to try and show people what we do and how we do it. "We will also be creating a foundation which we will contribute to and our partners will contribute to. "The important thing is that when our plane lands back in Liverpool there will still be things going on in our name over here which we can continue to support. "Obviously enough is never enough. Fans over here, like those at home, love Liverpool and want as much of it as they can get. We can never be here often enough and when we are here we can never give enough access. We will just do as much as possible and look to make everyone happy."

The Reds' travelling party in full: Reina, Arbeloa, Johnson, Dossena, Insua, Agger, Skrtel, Carragher, Mascherano, Lucas, Alonso, Riera, Benayoun, Kuyt, Torres, Voronin, Babel, Ngog, El Zhar, Cavalieri, Gulacsi, Degen, Spearing, Plessis, Nemeth, San Jose, Pacheco, Kelly.

No comments: