States at war over who hosts Liverpool
Coming to Australia ... Luis Suarez. Photo: AFP
IN HIS previous role in charge of the NRL, David Gallop knew all about state versus state.
So the FFA chief executive is set to be in familiar territory as a tug of war breaks out between NSW and Victoria over plans to host English Premier League giants Liverpool in July.
Melbourne Victory said they initiated discussions with the Anfield club to play a friendly at the MCG as part of the Reds' pre-season swing through the region in July, with experienced match promoter Lou Sticca's Tribal Sports Management group facilitating negotiations.
At the same time, the FFA has reportedly been in ''secret talks'' with the Merseyside club's representatives to woo them to play in Sydney.
The FFA has already agreed to a deal with Liverpool's rivals Manchester United to play against an A-League All Stars side that month. According to reports, the governing body hopes to schedule a clash between Liverpool and the All Stars within days of the United match. The unfolding stoush has the hallmarks of a classic Victoria versus NSW stand-off, involving investment demands from both state governments and pitting the game's Sydney-based governing body against one of its biggest clubs.
That Liverpool will play here in six months seems beyond doubt. The issue of where is likely to be resolved over the next few weeks.
The Victorian government was unwilling to put up cash to lure United when they began to make noises about touring Australia, leaving the NSW government free to secure Alex Ferguson's team - at a cost of around $3 million - for the exhibition match at ANZ Stadium on July 20. The NSW government hopes to rake in about $15 million from United's visit.
The Victory are hopeful that the Victorian government will be tempted to help fund a visit by Brendan Rodgers's side, and is arguing that such is the strength of support for the Reds that visitors from across Australia would flock to the city to give it a midwinter tourism boost.
However, the state government is not likely to be impressed by the idea of an A-League All Stars side playing the Reds - preferring instead, if it is to invest in the venture, to back a club from its own state.
The FFA is looking to these high-profile games to boost the sport's popularity, but if it stages both in NSW it runs the risk of being seen - as it already is in several states - as Sydney-centric.
■ Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou says any question marks about Marco Rojas's ability to play on a bigger stage were answered on Saturday night with his five-star performance against Sydney FC.
Rojas scored one goal, created another and stood out in a big match at AAMI Park to help his side win 3-1.
With a contingent from Liverpool at the match to discuss the Reds' pre-season friendly in Australia, as well as scouts from Italian giants Juventus, Rojas turned on his sensational best.
Postecoglou believes Rojas's ability to handle the pressure of a big game shows he has the right people guiding his career.
''There's obviously a lot of pressure on him, but I think he's got a pretty good network around him because, when you talk to him, he's not fazed by anything,'' Postecoglou said.
''That was a pretty big challenge for him with all the focus on him, and apparently there's a couple of thousand scouts out watching him.
''The fact he could perform like that shows if there were any question marks about him stepping up to a bigger stage … he answered them.''