Celtic will play Everton in this Sydney Super Cup later this year after the Premier League side were confirmed as replacements for Rangers.
The friendly tournament, which will take place in Sydney during the break from domestic football for the Qatar World Cup in November, will also feature Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers.
Everton’s inclusion ends a months-long wait for the final participant to be confirmed, after Rangers pulled out of the tournament alleging a failure by the organisers to meet their obligations.
The friendly tournament had originally been set to feature the first Old Firm derby to take place overseas.
However, after the initial announcements, supporters of both Celtic and Rangers made their opposition to the friendly known with protests at Premiership games.
Rangers withdrew their participation, unhappy with the organisation and promotion of the event. A failure to fully utilise the ‘Old Firm’ tag for the rivals was believed to be one of the factors, though the term was used in ticket sales in Australia.
The uncoordinated timing of announcements was also an issue, with Celtic publicising the tournament as a ‘homecoming’ for their Australian manager Ange Postecoglou.
Australian based firms TEG Sport and Left Field Live, who are jointly hosting the event, were unhappy with Rangers’ decision to pull out, saying that they had responded to negative fan reaction and were letting people down, denying that they had failed to meet any of their commitments.
A search for a big name to replace the Ibrox club was launched, with Serie A side AC Milan touted as a possible entrant before Everton were confirmed as the fourth side in the cup.
Everton manager Lampard said in a statement: ” The winter World Cup has provided us with this opportunity to visit an amazing country and play against really strong opposition. We’ve also got a lot of passionate Evertonians in Australia and we can’t wait to catch up with them.
“Other than the players that will be on duty at the World Cup, we will be taking our strongest possible squad. This promises to be a very worthwhile tour on every level, and we are delighted to be making the trip.”
Celtic responded to the news by tweeting “The Sydney Super Cup just got bigger and better!”.
Postecoglou said: “Personally I look forward to meeting Frank and his team and from our perspective it will be great to test ourselves against the quality of an EPL side.”