The announcement of AEK FC’s first tour to Australia in 30 years was an unexpected surprise to fans of the Athens giant down under.

As part of the Sydney Festival of Football, AEK will join Scottish Premier League Champion’s Rangers FC, English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers and A-League Champions Sydney FC in a four team tournament beginning Sunday July 25.

For Stavros Adamidis, President and CEO of AEK, the trip to Australia represents the reestablishment of an important connection for the club.

“After 30 years from our previous visit, it was about time; and a perfect opportunity for us (to tour Australia) in July,” said Mr Adamidis.

“We were specifically approached to compete in this tournament alongside the other teams. Having lived abroad for so long, I understand the importance of ‘omogenia’.

“When we heard about the opportunity, we didn’t have to think very long about it. It is our obligation to make every effort to get up close and personal with AEK fans in Australia.”

Mr Adamidis continued; “we have an obligation to our supporters world wide, including Australia and we’re fortunate that our fan base extends to where Greeks are around the world.”

AEK has strengthened its squad ahead of the 2010/11 season, bringing in the highly fancied Brazilian, Eder (from Asteras Tripolis), ex-Portsmouth star Papa Bouba Diop, Uruguayan left-back Claudio Dadomo and returning legends Nikos Lyberopoulos and Trainos Dellas. Adamidis indicated AEK would be at its strongest in Sydney.

“We will bring our strongest squad to Australia. This will be the second phase of our pre-season following our Austria training camp, which begins on July 6th. After this we arrive in Athens for a day or two and then depart for Australia.”

Hoping perhaps more than any other AEK player to make the trip down under is AEK’s Aussie-connection Nathan Burns. Burns was loaned out to Kerkyra FC in 2009/10, making 31 appearances and scoring eight goals.

AEK’s technical team, including coach Dusan Bajevic, is reportedly due to make a decision on the talented right winger and Mr Adamidis hinted an announcement concerning Burns was imminent. “Nathan Burns is being looked at very closely. He had a good season at Kerkyra and we’re hoping to make a decision on Nathan very soon.”

Excessive spending and financial mismanagement unfortunately are issues that have plagued Greek football in recent times. But the issue is not endemic to Greece, and so widespread is the issue throughout Europe, that UEFA has recently introduced its so-called Financial Fair Play Regulations.

The regulations are aimed at curbing the excessive spending and inflated transfer fees and player salaries that have endangered football in recent years.

Mr. Adamidis said that he and AEK welcomed the regulations which call for greater discipline and more rational financial behaviour from clubs, and encourage clubs to operate more responsibly by not spending more than they earn.

“The new UEFA regulations are very important and a good move,” began the AEK president.

“If you look around Europe you can see that football finances are out of control and a lot of teams are having problems in Greece around Europe. We want AEK to move forward and we have a specific plan in mind to make the right choices.

With the management we have now at AEK, we are in no way short sighted,” said Mr Adamidis.

“We are in support of the new regulations. AEK will continue to compete strongly in all competition whether it is the Greek Championship, the Europa League or the Greek Cup. The new financial regulations of UEFA are welcome and necessary.”

Perhaps the most important on-going issue for all AEK fans is concerning the construction of a new stadium for the 11-time Greek Champion.

In 2003, AEK’s 73 year old stadium was demolished, and the club has played at the Athens Olympic Stadium (OAKA) ever since. But after what may have seemed like several inactive years to the supporters, Mr Adamidis was very direct in indicating the club’s stance on building a new stadium.

“The stadium is one of our top priorities. We have recently had a couple of meetings with relevant groups including architects and we are ready to move forward next with the City of Nea Filadelfia. We are very united to once and for all fully explore all the possibilities of building AEK’s stadium at Nea Filadelfia.

“We are very united, with the football club and the amateur sports club. Our next step is to go to the Greek Government with our plan to build the appropriate stadium for all of our needs.”

“It’s a priority and we are making this commitment. We will exhaust all possibilities and do everything in our power to move forward with our specifics plan. We are exploring ways to finance this plan.”

Finally, Mr Adamidis reiterated his and the club’s enthusiasm in touring Australia and competing in the Sydney Festival of Football.

“We’re very honoured to have been invited to compete in this tournament with such high profile and good teams. We are excited to participate in Sydney and meet all the AEK fans up close and see the Greek community of Australia.”