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Ange Postecoglou defends ‘unique’ Tottenham trip to Australia despite player welfare concerns

Manager Ange Postecoglou of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Premier League match between Fulham FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Craven Cottage on March 16, 2024 in London, England

Ange Postecoglou has defended Tottenham’s decision to arrange a post-season friendly with Newcastle United in Australia amid criticism over player welfare concerns and climate change.

Spurs will fly to Melbourne for the May 22 exhibition immediately after they finish their Premier League season away to Sheffield United on May 19.

The decisions of Tottenham and Newcastle to fly halfway across the world for a friendly, something Arsenal Women are also planning, sparked criticism but Postecoglou highlighted the “unique opportunity” of the match at Melbourne Cricket Ground, which will act as a homecoming for the 58-year-old after he grew up in the city.

“We leave straight after the last game and we’ll be taking everyone who’s fit,” Postecoglou said. “We thought that with our season being so disrupted and not a lot of games, this was a unique opportunity for us.

“I wouldn’t see this as something that would happen on a regular basis unless we felt the benefits would outweigh the costs. On this occasion when we balanced everything up, we felt it was a good opportunity to take the club to the other side of the world and help us continue to grow the football club. That’s why the decision was made.”

Telegraph Sport this week reported the concerns of Fossil Free Football, a group of football fans urging the game to take serious action on the climate, and Football For Future.

Barney Weston, co-director of Football For Future, a not-for-profit working group across football to build a more environmentally sustainable culture, said: “The friendlies between Spurs and Newcastle in Melbourne, and Arsenal Women against A-League All-Stars, underscore the growing fixture strain and its environmental toll.

“Football is a global game - travel is inevitable. But we can’t ignore the consequences.”

England manager Gareth Southgate will be one of several international bosses sweating over the fitness of key personnel ahead of Euro 2024 this summer.

Spurs have several South American players who will likely feature in the Copa America a matter of weeks after the exhibition in Melbourne.

But Postecoglou insisted: “I’m sure Gareth will be a club coach one day and he’ll get a different perspective, as he has been in the past.

“I don’t think Gareth has said anything – or any other national team manager. I was a national team manager and I used to sweat over it at the weekend when the players were playing whether that was a normal game, a friendly game, whatever game it is.

“The flip side of that is there were quite a few club coaches on edge with national team duty this week so it’s the world we live in.

“We’ve thought it through as a football club and it’s fair to say if we’d been in Europe and had a really big season, we probably would have made a different decision.

“We weighed everything up and felt like there was a real benefit to playing this game.”

Meanwhile, Postecoglou has commended the bravery of Richarlison for speaking out this week about his mental health.

“It’s a credit to Richy that he’s sought help, he’s got help, the right help and now he wants others to also benefit from it,” he said.

“It’s not that uncommon. It’s not, not in my experience. They’re human beings. But for the most part it’s always dealt behind closed doors.”

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