Singapore 'in contention' to stage Asia Trophy 2015

Hong Kong's relentless rain has brightened Singapore's prospects of staging the popular Barclays Asia Trophy in the future.

After the pre-season football tournament was nearly called off owing to poor pitch conditions at the Hong Kong Stadium last week, the upcoming Sports Hub in Kallang was tipped by the English Premier League's top man to step in as its next host in 2015.

EPL chief executive Richard Scudamore told reporters in Hong Kong on Sunday: "We will make pitch quality and pitch durability, sustainability and preparation a very important criteria.

"In Singapore next year, they are opening a Desso-pitched, closing- roof stadium, so places like that are going to be in contention."

The Desso surface - which is adopted by the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and Arsenal - combines natural grass and artificial fibres that intertwine with the grass when it starts growing. This, designers claim, anchors the field and creates a solid, even structure with good drainage.

In response to The Straits Times' queries, Singapore Sports Hub chief executive Philippe Collin Delavaud said it is "fully open" to entering into talks with the organisers of the Asia Trophy.

He added: "The new National Stadium design will allow us to close the roof fully to protect the field before and during events.

"Such features should be a decisive advantage for event organisers, when compared to fully open venues."

The $1.33 billion Sports Hub, with the 55,000-capacity National Stadium as its centrepiece, is expected to open officially next May. If chosen, the Asia Trophy will join the 2015 SEA Games and tennis' WTA Championships in using the 35ha facility.

The friendly competition, which features three EPL sides and a host team, has been held in football-mad Asia every two years since 2003. Hong Kong Stadium has staged three of the six editions - including the last two - with Bangkok, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur among the other venues.

This year's edition was contested by Manchester City, Tottenham, Sunderland and local outfit South China. City defeated Sunderland 1-0 in Saturday's final.

Scudamore also hit out at the Football Association's claim that the EPL and its reliance on foreign talent was to blame for England's failures at major tournaments.

He said: "It is so palpably not true. We are putting on a competition that the best players in the world want to... play in.

"It is not my fault the country is only 60 million. There are 212 countries playing this game.

"We are blessed to have 20 of the world's largest 50 clubs. Within that 20, between three and five of the biggest 10. There are only 10 clubs vying for this top talent."

Scudamore is also determined to fight any attempt from Fifa to move the 2022 World Cup from summer to winter, noting: "To alter it to a different time of year messes up everybody's calendar, not just ours."

 

nsanjay@sph.com.sg


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