By: DAISY SAMPSON
REPRESENTATIVES FROM Celtic, Middlesbrough, Cardiff City and Portuguese team Guimarães were all present at the unveiling of the Algarve Challenge Cup at the Hotel Hilton in Vilamoura on Friday.
Bob Hall, known for his sporting commentary for both the BBC and ITV, was the spokesperson for the conference to announce the latest prestigious sporting event to come to the Algarve.
Tournament director Scott Ashcroft told The Resident: “This tournament is the culmination of two years of hard work and planning, it’s great to see it at this stage now with such brilliant teams partaking.”
He added: “I was warned off
using the Algarve stadium but I can’t speak highly enough of the service provided by the management. They have been more than helpful and it is the perfect place to hold the Algarve Challenge Cup.”
David Jones, the manager of Cardiff City, recent runners up in the FA cup final, said: “Next season is very important for us as we try and push for the Premiership and this is a fantastic start to our pre-season programme.”
Middlesbrough FC manager Gareth Southgate (please read exclusive interview on this page) reiterated these sentiments and added: “We always receive a very warm welcome in the Algarve but the key reason for coming here is the brilliant opposition, the great climate and the training facilities available.”
Celtic had only won the Scottish Premier League 12 hours earlier and were unable to send a representative. However, a statement from manager Gordon Strachan apologised for his absence and said he believed this would be “a superb tournament for the players and fans alike”.
Some 15,000 travelling fans from Celtic alone are expected to come to the tournament and the organisers are currently in talks with travel companies in the UK to provide packages for fans.
As part of the tournament, organiser Scott Ashcroft is keen to encourage charitable work and has already given 1,000 tickets to the Portuguese Football Association in the Algarve to enable local children to watch the games for free and have the opportunity to be ball boys or walk out on to the pitch with the players.
“We will be announcing our chosen charity very soon and all donations will go to them, including any money raised at the charity golf tournament to be held in October.”
The charity golf will be played with members of the teams in this tournament and members of the teams playing in next years challenge cup.
If the tournament goes well this year, Scott hopes to attract other big teams for next year, “We have been in talks with some very big teams, including one of the biggest teams in Spain.”
The Algarve Challenge Cup will take place on July 22 and July 24 at the Algarve Stadium, with day tickets starting at 38.50 euros to watch two matches.
For further information about all aspects of the Algarve Challenge Cup or to buy tickets visit www.algarvechallengecup.com (available in English and Portuguese).
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