Newcastle United will take part in this summer’s Asia Trophy in China, some 16 years after their last participation, which was the inaugural competition.
After some speculation, the trip was confirmed by the official Newcastle United website, and will see them play a semi-final and either the final, or third-placed play-off, against two of Manchester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Ham United.
The Newcastle Chronicle report that the Newcastle hierarchy see the tournament as an ideal platform to spread the Newcastle United ‘brand’ across Asia.
But cynics will see it as Mike Ashley using his ownership of the football club as a front for giving exposure to his sportswear company, and tapping into a lucrative market in a bid to net him more money.
The trip is contradictory to the type of preseason tours Rafa Benitez prefers — read into that what you will.
The Spaniard likes to focus on short-haul trips — Ireland has been his location of choice on many occasions — which focus on seclusion and fitness training, with a game tagged onto the end of it for match sharpness.
A trip to China for the Premier League preseason showpiece event is hardly going to be a secluded one, with media appearances and hundreds of English football loving fans following their every move.
That said, it does provide two games in quick succession, in humid temperatures, giving the bulk of the squad some challenging conditions to overcome, which will help in their preparations for the new season.
Hopefully, Rafa will have been consulted on the preseason plans, and the club are taking part with his full agreement, meaning he is likely to be in charge next season.
Or are they making plans, regardless of what Rafa wants, in preparation for a new man to take over in the summer?
Until Rafa is asked about it directly, we have no idea if he gave his blessing to the trip, or whether he had any say at all. But either way, Newcastle will be there, and fans will be desperate for news that it will be Benitez in charge when they arrive.
Do you think taking part in the Asia Trophy is good for Newcastle? Would you prefer them to stay in Europe, as Rafa likes to do? Let us know your thoughts…
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience