Scottish giants Rangers FC are set to return to the SuperCupNI this summer!
The Glasgow giants will be hoping that their class of 2023 will hope to go one step better than last year, when they were defeated by a classy Manchester United side in the final.
The Ibrox outfit, have had their return to the tournament rubber stamped by first team manager Michael Beale, who previously brought teams over from Chelsea when he was involved with their academy.
SuperCupNI chairman Victor Leonard said securing the services of Rangers was a major coup for the tournament.
“Over the years we have developed strong working relationships with Rangers and they have been fantastic supporters of the tournament for a number of years now.
“Last year’s Junior final was played in front of a large crowd at the Ballymena Showgrounds and Rangers are always very well supported at the tournament.
“The feedback we got from Rangers was overwhelmingly positive and I know they are excited to come back and hopefully go one step better this summer.”
Rangers are joined in the Junior Section by fellow SPL side Kilmarnock FC, who are making a return to the tournament for the first time since the early noughties.
The two Scottish sides will be joined in the draw by one of England’s most productive youth academies. West Ham United were annual visitors to the tournament during the 90s, with the likes of Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson and Glen Johnson all starring for the ‘Academy of Football’ in Northern Ireland.
The Londoners are now managed by David Moyes, who has close family connections to the North Coast and the Scot regularly sent over sides from Everton, Real Sociedad and Manchester United.
“We were delighted to have West Ham United confirm their attendance last week. They participated in our inaugural Minor Section back in 2018 and we have kept in close contact with the club since then.
“It is fantastic to welcome back such a prestigious English Premier League side who have such a rich history in the tournament,” said SuperCupNI chairman Victor Leonard.
There is a strong English presence in the Junior Section, with tournament regulars Charlton Athletic back once again and there is a debut at the tournament for Stevenage FC, who play in League 2.
Over the last number of years, the tournament has been well supported by teams from North America and three sides from across the Atlantic will descend upon Northern Ireland later on this summer.
KICS Football Club, who are based in Illinois and Indiana will make their debut at the tournament and a select team from the International Development Academy, who have centres in North America, England, Spain and Italy will take their place in the Junior Section. They are joined by Prospect 2 Pro Academy in Canada, who have just completed a successful tour of England where they faced the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal, and the Canadian side will return to Northern Ireland intent on making their mark at their debut tournament.
Donegal Schoolboys will return to the Junior competition for first time in 8 years and they are joined by the six county sides from Northern Ireland. The County sides have continued to make serious strides forward and last summer they once again claimed a number of scalps, with County Antrim reaching the final four only to be defeated by Rangers.
There is still one team still to be confirmed and complete the 16 strong line-up and details on this team will be confirmed in the coming weeks.
The 2023 tournament kicks off on Sunday 23rd July with our welcoming ceremony in Coleraine and concludes with finals day on Friday 28th July. Matches will be played across three council areas, Causeway, Coast and Glens, Mid and East Antrim and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.