Team GB to start 2012 football campaign at Old Trafford
Great Britain's men will kick off their 2012 Olympic campaign at Old Trafford next July
Stuart Pearce’s Great Britain team will start their London 2012 Olympic campaign with a group match at Manchester United’s Old Trafford.
Organisers Locog are ready to put an estimated 1.5 million football tickets back on sale on a first come, first served basis later this month and the decision to confirm the host nations’ early schedule will certainly help their previously sluggish sales.
As Locog chief executive Paul Deighton hinted last month, Pearce’s team will play an unknown opponent in Manchester on 26 July, the day before the opening ceremony, before further group games at Wembley on 29 July and Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on 1 August.
Hope Powell’s women’s team will be the first Team GB athletes in action when they play the first of two group matches in Cardiff on 25 July, two days before the official start of the Games.
They will also play another group match at the 74,000 seater Millennium Stadium three days later before becoming the first home women’s team to ever play at Wembley on 31 July.
The decision to play three of Great Britain’s six group stage matches in Cardiff could be seen as highly-political, especially following comments this week from Welsh manager Gary Speed and officials from the Football Association of Wales.
Welsh players Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale have both recently been pictured in Team GB kit, despite the Welsh FA’s stance that they cannot support a British team at next year’s Games, for fearing of jeopardising their independence with football’s world governing body Fifa.
Speed gathered the entire Welsh team together in advance of this week’s match with Norway in Cardiff to underline his opposition to any Olympic involvement from his players.
Meanwhile, Locog believe that the prospect of watching Great Britain’s teams in action will be a big driver in sales and believe that group matches will be quick to sell out when they go back on sale on 29 November.
“The prospect of Team GB taking part in the Games has captured the imagination of the public and we are pleased to be able to confirm their group stage fixtures ahead of tickets going back on sale,” said London 2012 sports director Debbie Jevans.
“With teams like Spain and Brazil already qualified and fantastic venues across the country, the Olympic Football tournaments promise to be a great family day out at the Olympic Games next summer.”
Locog have also confirmed that the official draw for both the men’s and women’s Olympic football competitions will take place at Wembley Stadium on 24 April.