GOURLAY: A BASE IN BANGKOK
Bangkok will not only host a game in Chelsea's 2013 'Here to Play, Here to Stay' tour this summer, it will also be the base for the team's training ahead of three matches to be played in Asia.
The news was announced by Chief Executive Ron Gourlay who was in Thailand to launch the game against the Singha Thailand All-Stars on 17 July. He also indicated new signings are likely by the time the game is played.
Chelsea visited Bangkok as part of our 2011 pre-season tour but this is the first time a training camp will be established there. The match will be followed by matches in Malaysia and Indonesia.
'We all remember our last visit here in 2011 when I made two promises,' said Gourlay at the media conference on Tuesday.
'One was if we won the Champions League I would bring the team back within two years, and I also promised we would open a Blue Pitch for use by the community in Bangkok. That was launched in July 2012. So we are delivering on our promises.
'The team love the support they get in Thailand, everybody always makes them feel very welcome and in July we will be here for Singha's 80th anniversary. It is a very big year for their company and we are glad we can be there to be a part of it.'
Singha is the global beer partner of Chelsea FC. Gourlay is pictured above with Piti Bhirom Bhakdi, Executive Director of Singha Corporation. Blue Pitches are an important part of the club's corporate social responsibility programme with pitches in London, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines, as well as Bangkok.
'We will be using Bangkok as our pre-season base,' Gourlay confirmed. 'It is a critical time in pre-season and we will also be spending the week in the community as part of our Here to Play, Here to Stay legacy. We don't just come and play a game.'
Gourlay gave assurances the club will bring the strongest team it possibly can and added: 'When you look at the last three or four transfer windows, we have continued to invest in the team and the philosophy of the football club is based on success on the field.
'We will continue to strengthen the team and I am expecting the introduction of two or three new players and hopefully they will be in place in time to be part of the team in Thailand.
The Chief Executive also said a number of the Chelsea players currently out on loan are likely to be part of the squad for the tour and next season. Gourlay would not be drawn on any questions about Frank Lampard or squad contracts in general, stating: 'I am not prepared to discuss this at this time.
'Obviously conversations must remain confidential between the club and the players at all times so that is as much as I can say.
'We are very excited about coming back to Thailand,' he said in conclusion. 'The game will be in the national stadium and I am certain it will be full.'