Portman Road date for Sven

ENGLAND are coming to town – just as The Evening Star told you more than a year ago.Sven Goran Eriksson will bring his squad to Portman Road in August for a glamour friendly against Croatia.

By Dave Allard

ENGLAND are coming to town – just as The Evening Star told you more than a year ago.

Sven Goran Eriksson will bring his squad to Portman Road in August for a glamour friendly against Croatia.

It will be an historic occasion, the first time Ipswich will have staged a full England international.

But the news will come as no surprise to Star readers – we were on the ball to bring you the story first on February 5 2002.

And we were first again, on November 29 last year, to reveal that Croatia would be England's opponents on Wednesday, August 20

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On both occasions the Football Association and Ipswich Town denied our story was spot-on.

And, incredibly, the FA today still refused to confirm the fixture will go ahead. A spokesman said: "We have a number of friendly fixtures to be confirmed, but we are not able to comment on opposition and venues at the moment."

But the Star has been in contact with the Croatian Football Federation, who were only too pleased to tell us how much they were looking forward to visiting Ipswich.

Croatia failed to survive beyond the first stage of last summer's World Cup finals, but they did spring a major shock by beating highly fancied Italy 2-1.

The game will be England's first of the 2003-2004 campaign, with Eriksson keen to send his first choice X1 into battle.

It will be his last chance to bring his players together before the Euro 2004 qualifiers in Macedonia on September 6 and at home to Liechtenstein four days later.

England wind up their qualifying programme on October 11 in Turkey.

Hosting such a prestigious fixture will not only be a major boost for the club, but the entire area.

It will be boom time for the region's hotels,

restaurants and shops with an influx of supporters from all over the country.

Town will also bring in much-needed revenue from a percentage of gate receipts and a share of

television revenue. The club could also cash in through corporate hospitality, perimeter advertising and programme sales.

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