Newcastle United official partners discover 2024-25 Champions League opponents

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Newcastle United club partners Larne are competing in the Champions League qualifying rounds this summer.

Larne were crowned Northern Ireland league champions for the second successive season, earning a spot in the Champions League first qualifying round in the process.

They have been drawn against Latvian champions FK RFS in the first qualifying round with the fixture dates yet to be confirmed. The Champions League draw also confirmed that the losing side from the fixture would receive a bye to the third qualifying round of the Conference League as opposed to being entered in the second qualifying round stage.

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This comes almost a year after Larne established a ‘strategic relationship’ with Newcastle’s academy. The partnership was set up by former sporting director Dan Ashworth to allow young players to move between the clubs to aid their development.

Larne owner Kenny Bruce said at the time: “We have been involved in extremely positive discussions with Newcastle United for some time over a strategic working relationship, which we feel can be mutually beneficial.

“At Larne, we have made no secret that our aim is to work with the top young talent on the island of Ireland and we have been making changes to our Academy at all levels, as we seek to make this aim a reality.

“Newcastle United, particularly through Dan Ashworth, has recognised the strides we have made within our structure and the emphasis we are placing on developing the best young players.

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“At all levels it is clear both Newcastle United and Larne are clubs moving in the right direction and we feel this affiliation will play a huge part in helping to grow that momentum.

“We are very excited to see what the future holds for players, coaches and staff as we work together over the coming weeks, months and years.”

Last season, Larne were beaten by HJK Helsinki in the first qualifying round stage. Larne then entered the Europa Conference League at the second qualifying round stage where they were beaten by Kosovo Superleague champions FC Ballkani.

Newcastle qualified for the Champions League last season but were knocked out at the group stage. They subsequently missed out on European qualification during the 2023-24 campaign as they finished seventh in the Premier League.

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