Spartans chairman Craig Graham has urged the local community to pack out Ainslie Park for their glamour tie against a Liverpool XI, celebrating ten years of the club’s widely acclaimed academy foundation.
The two-time Lowland League champions will welcome a youthful Reds squad bursting with talented stars of the future to the Capital venue on Monday, with around half of the tickets already sold in anticipation of the fixture.
The Spartans Football Academy are recognised as the number-one charity affiliated to any professional sports club in Scotland with a lengthy list of national awards, working within the most deprived areas of Edinburgh.
And to mark the occasion, Graham revealed former Liverpool legend and academy supporter Sir Kenny Dalgleish was a massive factor in helping to arrange the pre-season friendly, with a bumper sell-out crowd expected.
“It’s an exciting occasion for everyone connected with the academy and we’re all really looking forward to the game,” Graham admitted.
“Ever since we were able to announce the fixture, we have been bombarded with people enquiring about how they can purchase tickets, what hospitality packages we will be offering and how we plan to involve the Spartans community.
“Liverpool have been excellent to deal with. Sir Kenny is aware of all the fantastic work we do in the community and when we discussed with him how to mark the occasion, he agreed to approach Liverpool and ask if they would bring a team up.
“Alex Inglethorpe, who runs part of the football programme at Anfield, was keen to support us, so I must thank him for agreeing to our request.
“It will be an under-23 squad they bring up with a few first-team fringe players likely to be involved. I know they have an intensive four-day training programme lined up at Oriam and several of their younger players featured in Jurgen Klopp’s first team towards the end of last season.
“I’ve no doubt these players will have phenomenal potential. If you go back to the team that Manchester United brought up in 2011, they had nine players including Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, and Danny Drinkwater who went on to play international football.
“Hopefully in a few years they will be able to say, ‘oh do you remember that time when we played at Ainslie Park’ when they’re competing at World Cups and Champions League Finals!
“We’ve sold over 1,500 tickets so far and I’m sure we will sell plenty of tickets on the day, so there will be a great buzz around the academy.
“We’ve focused on getting as many age groups engaged with this as possible. The mascots will be made up of boys and girls from our youth sections and our 2008s team will be ball boys.”
Silver hospitality packages are still available priced at £55, which can be requested via firstname.lastname@example.org. This includes a buffet-style curry, half-time pie and drink, access to cash bar, centre stand ticket, match programme and teamsheet and pin badge.
Kick-off is at 7pm, while general admission tickets can still be purchased, priced at: Stand – £20, Ground ticket – £15, Concession – £10, U12s – £5.