Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Magpies' South Africa Adventure Is in Doubt

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Magpies' South Africa Adventure Is in Doubt

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

NEWCASTLE United will have to rethink their pre-season plans after reports that the Vodacom Challenge has been cancelled.

Nearly a month ago it was reported the Magpies would be playing in the preseason tournament in South Africa, but confirmation has not been forthcoming.

Now it appears the tournament has been called off.

Conflicting reasons have been given for the cancellation, some sources claiming the sponsors pulled out, others blaming Newcastle and SuperSport United's failure to sign up to the event.

On Monday it was confirmed South African sides Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates had committed to it.

The prestigious competition has been held annually since 1999, featuring the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

As well as offering warm weather training ahead of the new campaign, a trip to South Africa also provides an opportunity to tap into one of the game's emerging markets.

South African hosted the last World Cup and thanks to players such as Tottenham's Steven Pienaar and former Manchester United and Leeds United players Quinton Fortune and Lucas Radebe, the English top flight is popular in the country. "As far as I know the tournament is out," one source is reported as saying in Soccer Laduma, South Africa's biggest football magazine. "Vodacom are not sponsoring the tournament this year and as a result of that it has been cancelled. "The talks have been stopped and there is no way it will take place this year as it's late." Organisers SAIL have promised an official statement in due course. Durban newspaper The Mercury cited the inability to get the two Uniteds to sign a contract as being behind the cancellation. Newcastle had been expected to travel to South Africa before a weekend in Portugal, where they will play in the Guadiana Torneo in the Algarve. Olympiacos and Porto are their opponents in the weekend competition, it has been confirmed. …

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