Arsenal, Everton and Stoke to play at Sports Hub in July

Arsenal, Everton and Stoke will be in town for Barclays Asia Trophy

A constellation of English Premier League (EPL) football stars will get to strut their stuff in Singapore when the Barclays Asia Trophy rolls into town in July.

Arsenal and Everton, two of the most successful clubs in England with 22 league titles between them, will compete in the four- team knockout tournament.

They will be joined by fellow EPL outfit Stoke City and a Singapore Select XI, which will consist mainly of players from the national side.

Defending FA Cup winners Arsenal and 2011 Cup runners-up Stoke will be making their debut in the competition, while Everton's last appearance was in 2005 in Bangkok.

The Asia Trophy - the only EPL-affiliated competition held outside England - has been held in the football-mad continent biennially since 2003, but this is the first time it is being staged in Singapore.

This year's edition will be staged at the Sports Hub, with two games each on July 15 and 18.

While Merseyside-based Everton have played friendlies in the region in the past, including matches in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, the Toffees will be making their first appearance in Singapore.

Manager Eugene Beh, 40, remembers his first and only visit to Goodison Park in 1990. He failed to get a ticket to watch his beloved team then and will not let another opportunity slip.

He said: "I've never seen them live, so this is really a chance of a lifetime for me."

It has been more than 20 years since Arsenal fans here last had the chance to meet their heroes. The Gunners participated in the now-defunct Caltex Cup in 1991.

Said Mr Eric Ong, president of the official Arsenal supporters club in Singapore, which has 500 paid members: "We're thrilled that Arsenal are finally back and hopefully they will bring some of their big names like Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain."

With the 2015/2016 EPL season scheduled to start less than a month later on Aug 8, all three clubs are likely to bring their first-team squads.

This means that local football fans will get to see a host of international players at the 55,000-seater National Stadium.

Said EPL chief executive Richard Scudamore: "Fans in Singapore should expect our most competitive-ever Barclays Asia Trophy."

Added Barclays Asia Pacific co-chief executive Andrew Jones: "Singapore is a major centre for Barclays in the region, and being able to bring these top football teams to the Lion City during the year of Singapore's 50th and Barclays' 325th anniversaries is recognition of our strong ties and shared history."

Tickets for each match day will be sold separately but will include both matches taking place on that day. More details will be announced in May.

Local football is also set to benefit, with the EPL set to run a series of coaching initiatives and knowledge-transfer programmes in July.

Football Association of Singapore president Zainudin Nordin noted: "The bulk of our national players are aged 25 and below, so in line with our player development objectives and goals, the Barclays Asia Trophy presents an opportunity for our players to pit themselves against high-level opponents and gain some valuable match experience and exposure."

jonwong@sph.com.sg