Foxes enter big league with off-season Cup invite

LONDON • Leicester City's remarkable rise into European football's elite was underlined when they were named as one of 10 teams in the prestigious International Champions Cup (ICC), a pre-season tournament that will also feature Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Leicester, who will play Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Celtic, are one of six Premier League teams invited to take part along with Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, with games taking place in Europe, Australia, the Asia-Pacific and the United States in July and August.

"An invitation to participate in the International Champions Cup highlights the significant impression the club is making on an international audience," said Leicester chief executive Susan Whelan.

"We are delighted to be involved in this year's competition. It will form part of a carefully planned pre-season programme that has worked extremely well in recent years.

"The ICC is a great opportunity to compete with some of Europe's leading clubs and to further promote the club, and the city of Leicester, around the world."

The contrast between Leicester's preparations for next season and those for the present campaign could hardly be greater as their fixtures last summer were five friendlies against minnows Lincoln City, Mansfield Town, Burton Albion, Rotherham United and Birmingham City.

"This time last year we were last in the Premier League," said Alan Birchenall, the Leicester ambassador. "To be invited to this fantastic tournament means everything to our football club."

In the same competition, Pep Guardiola will be given an early taste of what it feels like to manage in a Manchester derby, with City and United expected to face one other in China.

It is a scenario that raises the prospect of an encounter with Jose Mourinho, should the former Chelsea manager replace Louis van Gaal as widely anticipated.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2016, with the headline 'Foxes enter big league with off-season Cup invite'. Print Edition | Subscribe