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Malta Tourism Authority’s Sela Cup expecting sold-out weekend at St James’ Park

Helmut Amhof addressing the media. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

International tournament to take place between August 5-6

Sports tourism has been one of the highlights of the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA)’s agenda.

Many flocked to the stadiums for the international friendlies which brought to our shores Serie A giants Inter and Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg, as well as the TipSport Cup and Manchester United women’s friendly against Birkirkara.

Through the Visit Malta brand, the MTA will be expanding its reach through the first edition of the Sela Cup, taking place at Newcastle’s St James’ Park between August 5-6.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the tournament, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo believes the sports tourism niche will continue to bring more to the country.

“The relevance of this niche of tourism is one which, with time, is becoming clearer,” Bartolo said.

“This is a particular area that has already given us great success in terms of bed nights and marketing which is being transmitted overseas. However, we need to look forward to more initiatives as thanks to this niche, we can develop more ways for our country to benefit.”

The inaugural edition of the cup will bring together hosts Newcastle United, Serie A side Fiorentina, La Liga’s Villareal, and French outfit Nice for a pre-season set of matches which will eventually celebrate a winner with a trophy presented by VisitMalta representatives at the end.

Helmut Amhof, representing international sports agency SLFC who have been partnering with the MTA for various events including the Sela Cup, remarked that this is “this is an important milestone in our commitment” with the tourism authority.

“This is an important milestone in our commitment to associate the VisitMalta brand with top sports events and maximise the level of promotion for the country in markets through the marketing of football,” Amhof told the press conference.

“This reflects our strong partnership with VisitMalta – a collaboration based on trust. Over the last few years, we have been working hard to boost Malta’s profile as a sports tourism destination. Now we are taking this to another level – this is the first time we are backing an international event of this level.

“The plan is to have a top-class tournament associated with VisitMalta and played by clubs who play in top leagues and come from countries that hold significant tourist interest for Malta.”

Speaking about the response, Amhof said they are expecting sell-out crowds at the tournament.

“The response for the first edition of the Sela Cup presented by VisitMalta has been incredible,” he explained.

“There have been 62,000 tickets sold for the matches and the expectation will be that the stadium will be sold out. The capacity at St James’ Park is 52,000.”

Carlo Micallef, CEO of the MTA pointed out that while many pre-season tournaments are heading away from Europe, VisitMalta took the opportunity to raise Malta’s reputation without going too far away.

“This is an opportunity for us to build something with Newcastle, who are also investing heavily to increase their standing within the Premier League and now the Champions League as well,” Micallef said.

“Right now, there aren’t many tournaments like this left in Europe. Most of these are heading to the US, Asia, or other far away places so in Europe, previously a hotspot, we don’t have them anymore.

“We’ve taken the opportunity to build up our reputation, especially because the tournament will be broadcasted on stations like DAZN, Movistar, and others in around 150 countries. VisitMalta will be visible on the LED boards for about 36 minutes each game and videos at half-time. More importantly, it will be shown to supporters of teams in the most important markets for us – the UK, Italy, Spain, and France.”

Nice and Villareal kick off the tournament on August 5 with each win giving the team three points, a point for each draw, and an additional point will be given per goal scored.

Part of the tournament will also feature a friendly between the women’s teams of Newcastle and West Brom.


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