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More Socceroos games for Sydney in FFA deal with NSW government

Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop says the governing body is "unashamedly" set to reward those state governments prepared to offer big money to host Socceroos fixtures, saying New South Wales is far ahead of the rest of the nation.

The FFA announced on Wednesday it will host five Socceroos matches and six Matildas matches in the next five years in Sydney after striking a deal with the NSW government.

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It's expected that Sydney will get the pick of each year's fixtures unless other state governments begin to stump up the kind of funds that Destination NSW has been ploughing into marquee fixtures - mostly involving overseas club teams - in recent years.

Gallop said the FFA was particularly keen to see a big financial return from its high-profile matches and hoped rival states would see the economic benefit of hosting Australia's matches.

"We know that [NSW] has got a huge supporter base, we're locked in now for a game in Sydney with the Socceroos for the next five years and up to six games with the Matildas," he said.

"But come April, we know what the next round of World Cup qualification will look like and certainly want to see other state governments follow New South Wales' lead and try to get a hold of these big games.


"I hope it encourages competition around the whole country. We've said for some time that we want to take the Socceroos and the Matildas around the country but, unashamedly, we have to get a commercial return."

Sydney will play host to the final match of the second stage of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup against Jordan on March 29 at Allianz Stadium and then ANZ Stadium will feature the Socceroos' first friendly against Greece on June 4.

"It's a horses-for-courses approach and when we play big teams, we want to be looking for the best return and obviously Sydney is a happy hunting ground for us," Gallop said. 

"We've had success here with the Asian Cup and with lead-up games to Brazil but there's no reason other states can't get involved and latch onto some of the games that are coming up."

But it's not only the Socceroos that the FFA are looking to cash in on, with the soaring popularity of the Matildas making them a much more attractive commercial proposition.

"It's been great to see not only the football community but the community generally getting behind the Matildas and the success they had last week in Japan," he said.

"There's a lot of momentum building towards the Rio Olympics. They're great role models and we certainly want to build their profile over the next few years. One way to do that is to make sure we get some big opposition and play some significant games for them."

Meanwhile, with the UAE Pro League on hiatus due to the Gulf Cup, Baniyas midfielder Mark Milligan is already back in Australia and is looking for the Socceroos to extract some revenge against Jordan after they defeated Australia 2-0 in Amman earlier in the campaign.

"I remember a few years ago [in the previous campaign] it was a similar situation that we were in. They gave us a little bit of a touch up at their home and then they came here and we played some very good football against them in Melbourne," he said.

"I'm very excited to be back in camp and looking forward to finishing off this qualifying stage strongly."

Milligan has been enjoying playing in the Middle East and has no plans to return to the A-League any time soon. However, having played before for Shanghai Shenhua, he is almost certain to be subject to offers from China in the next transfer window.

"I'm under contract for another year, so at the moment I don't think I'll be moving anywhere," he said. "I'll just try to see out the season, finish strong and see what happens in the summer window."

Milligan has also been keeping tabs on Carl Valeri, who he forged a superb partnership with during Melbourne Victory's championship run last season. Valeri is out for an indeterminate period due an inflammatory brain condition.

"I spoke to Carl when he started to go through everything and recently I've spoken to people at the club and they informed me now that he's started training again, which is wonderful," Milligan said.

"Carl's very important to that Melbourne Victory team and I think it's been obvious how much they've missed him throughout the season with his leadership and the way he plays. It's unfortunate - he's one of the best I've played with."