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Soccer club aspires to gain entry to China's market

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily UK | Updated: 2016-10-05 17:33

Soccer club aspires to gain entry to China's market

Jeff Mostyn [Photo/China Daily]

English Premier League club AFC Bournemouth's chairman Jeff Mostyn will visit China this week to forge relationships with Chinese Super League soccer teams and businesses in Beijing and Shanghai.

Entering China's sports market is an ambitious step for a club that is one of English soccer's true rags-to-riches stories.

After narrowly escaping financial ruin in 2008, the club began its campaign in the fourth tier of league soccer with a 17-point deduction for failing to exit administration.

Eight years later, it is enjoying its second season in the Premier League,having strung together a series of unlikely promotions under manager Eddie Howe.

Mostyn said he first devised the plan to tell Bournemouth's story to Chinese fans and build the brand in Asia during President Xi Jinping's UK visit in 2015.

M o s t y n attended Xi's tour of the Manchester City Academy.

"As a consequence, (I) became extremely interested in the opportunities of expanding our global brand to possibly the most exciting market in the world."

Mostyn will meet executives from several Chinese companies and with the management of three Chinese Super League sides, the identities of which will be disclosed during or after the visit from Oct 7 to 14.

"I am looking forward to meeting influential business executives, and if an opportunity arises that there may be interest in a mutually beneficial business interest, I would be more than happy to discuss those opportunities," Mostyn said.

"I'm also meeting three Chinese Super League clubs in Shanghai and Beijing, where I'll talk about potential collaborations in the same way that I did with (Major League Soccer) on a tour of the US last year."

These range from an exchange of youth players to an exchange of minds, he said.

"People tend to focus collaborations on an exchange of players-I tend to look at the peripheral things that we can share expertise in, such as sports science, analytical expertise, medical and recruitment expertise, and also what we can do with the community."

Bournemouth has already participated in an exchange with a Chinese delegation of 60 coaches.

Over the summer, the club collaborated with the University of Bournemouth in a program that saw all the young coaches earn Football Association Level 1 coaching badges.

Such initiatives accord with Xi's plan to turn China into a soccer superpower, which Mostyn believes must involve investment from the ground up.

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