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Magpies set to play in Vodacom Challenge

By Ramatsiyi Moholoa | 2012-05-17 07:28:03.0

NEGOTIATIONS are at an advanced stage by the Vodacom Challenge to bring English Premier League club Newcastle United to South Africa to play in the off-season tournament hosted by Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.

An announcement is likely to be made today.

The sponsors are expected to announce a new deal for Chiefs and Pirates, with each club getting just over R100-million. It will be the first time the joint sponsorship will not involve the South African Football Association.

The announcement will be attended by the chairmen of both clubs, Irvin Khoza (Pirates) and Kaizer Motaung (Chiefs), who are credited with turning the challenge into one of the biggest off-season soccer competitions in Africa.

"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," said a source involved in the negotiations. "The organisers are also toying with the idea of getting Tottenham Hotspur back in the tournament because they are going back to its original format of four clubs, but the appearance fees asked by the English teams are massive.

"There is also a possibility that we could also see Mamelodi Sundowns participating for the first time since the inception of this tournament. You have to remember that this tournament has nothing to do with Chiefs and Pirates being sponsored by Vodacom.

"The cellular phone company are sponsors of the tournament, which is owned by SAIL. If Vodacom had decided not to renew its contract, SAIL would have looked for a new company to sponsor it.

"Vodacom re-committed itself to the tournament last week after the previous contract expired last year," added the source.

The Magpies, who are coached by Alan Pardew, had a fairly good run in the English Premier League in the recently ended season after finishing fifth in the standings.

Their striking force is led by Papiss Cisse, who scored 13 goals in 15 games since his arrival at St James Park in January,

The Senegalese attacker has decided to stay with the team despite the Magpies missing out on the Champions League.