There has been a lot of speculation over the past few weeks as to what Newcastle United's pre-season Summer plans are. There has been talk of the team heading back to North America, after a three-match tour over there last Summer, while France had also been mentioned.
We had speculated over possible destinations a few weeks ago. However, it now appears that the club will be heading over to South Africa in July.
There has been news coming out of the club today that negotiations are at an “advanced stage” for the club to take part in the Vodacom Challenge, which is hosted by the Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.
Up until now, Newcastle have had to wait until their Premier League fate was decided, as early involvement in a Champions League qualifier would have had consequences on their friendly programme.
However, with a Europa Cup place having been obtained by Newcastle a couple of weeks ago, the club are now looking into possible friendly commitments. We will have to play a two-legged qualifier for the European competition, but that will take place in August.
Up to now, the club – which visited the United States last summer – has declined to comment on its pre-season plans as they have not been finalised.
The only mentioning of our Pre-season schedule came last month, when Alan Pardew merely confirmed “We will go on a pre-season tour, definitely.”
But newspapers in South African reported on Wednesday: “Negotiations are at an advanced stage between the organisers and management of Newcastle United. I think an announcement will be made in a few days’ time” (Sowetan).
Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have previously taken part in the pre-season tournament, which was initiated in 1999, that pits a Premier League team against Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.
Tottenham and Mamelodi Sundowns (South African team) have also been linked with the tournament, along with the Toon, and it certainly would give us an opportunity to widen our base of support in Africa.
There has yet to be an official announcement concerning the tournament schedule, but there should be an official confirmation of the teams taking part over the next few days.
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