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Liverpool Scupper South Africa Sojourn

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As quickly as Liverpool's planned post-season friendly in South Africa was set, it has now been cancelled. Local fans will be disappointed, though many players will likely be breathing a sigh of relief.

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Christopher Furlong

Mere days after being announced, Liverpool's unusually timed post-season friendly against Ajax Cape Town has been scuppered in embarrassing fashion after South Africa's Premier Soccer League barred the local club from taking part. The main point of contention is that with the PSL's Nedbank Cup scheduled for the 25th, South Africa's domestic season will still technically be ongoing on the 21st when the match was scheduled to take place.

And unfortunately for those hoping to see Liverpool play in South Africa, mid-season friendlies are prohibited by the PSL—and Ajax and the event's planners failed to clear the match with the league before extending an invitation to Liverpool. While Ajax later sought an exemption, the PSL turned them down on the grounds that such a high profile friendly days before the cup final could detract from that match.

It seems unlikely that Liverpool playing Ajax in Cape Town four days before Kaizer Chiefs meet SuperSport United in Durban would have detracted from the cup final—a cup final in fact scheduled on the same day as UEFA's Champions League final. Yet clearly the decision by Ajax and promoters to go ahead with the match without first seeking clearance left the PSL ill-inclined to reconsider.

When it became clear Ajax would not be allowed to participate, Liverpool and promoters sought an alternative opponent that would allow the English club to hold on to the £1M fee they had been promised for appearing in South Africa 48 hours after the end of the Premier League season. However, no suitable opponent could be found in time to save the match, leading to its official cancellation today.

While this is highly unfortunate for those who would have been able to see Liverpool in person had the match in Cape Town gone ahead in some form, Liverpool's players no longer needing to delay their summer breaks to embark on a blatant cash grab will likely lead to few complaints over developments amongst the squad.

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