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End of an era as the Milk Cup becomes SuperCupNI

By Jim Gracey

The milk has finally run out for Northern Ireland's world-renowned youth football tournament.

The 31-year-old Milk Cup will next summer be rebranded as the SuperCupNI after organisers confirmed that their current two-year agreement with sponsors Dale Farm has come to an end.

Dale Farm's involvement was always going to be short term to keep the tournament going after three decades of Dairy Council support ended in 2014.

Organisers now hope the name change will help attract a new sponsor to prefix the SuperCupNI rebranding.

It marks the end of an era and fresh start for a tournament famed for launching countless professional careers, most notably Manchester United's Class of 99 stars David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers.

Chairman Victor Leonard said: "We have had an association with milk since our second tournament in 1984. Now that Dale Farm have completed their sponsorship package, we feel it is the right time to rename the tournament as we explore new ideas to enhance and redefine the event.

"Dale Farm stepped in at a difficult time when our long and successful association with the Dairy Council came to an end.

"Their intervention was invaluable in several ways, not least from a financial viewpoint. Their involvement secured our short term future and enabled us to tackle a number of changes in format."

Victor continued: "We are proud that we have been able to present a Northern Ireland event with a worldwide appeal and now, as the SuperCupNI, we are moving forward into a new era.

"We have already had some discussions with regard to potential new sponsors but these are at the preliminary stage. Hopefully we will have positive news in the new year."

Next year's SuperCupNI will run on the north coast from Monday, July 25 to Friday, July 29, with the opening ceremony in Coleraine on Sunday, July 24

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