City's global plan gathers pace

Last updated : 14 November 2007 By Ben Collins

Upon coming to power, new owner Dr Thaksin Shinawatra promised City would be developed into a global brand, with youth academies and club alliances worldwide, and those plans have come to fruition this week.

First, Sven and Sun Jihai travelled to Shanghai to announce major new commercial deals with Premier Goals, China's leading internet and mobile rights provider, and The9 Group, a leading Chinese computer-gaming company.

The9 Group focuses on developing massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG's), is part-owned by EA Sports and has the licence to market EA's 'FIFA Online' game in China. They also hold a 50% stake in MSN China.

Sven and Sun Jihai are then off to Thaksin's native Thailand, where they are due to announce more commercial deals before arriving back in Manchester on Saturday.

"This visit reflects the global nature of football and it's good that we are now attracting interest from other countries," Sven told the City website.

"Dr Thaksin has asked me to go and with it being international week there will be very few players at training.

"I'm told there's more interest out there (Asia) and with the owner coming from Thailand, I'm sure that's got bigger and bigger of late," Sven added.

"I know that the chairman's message was that he wants Manchester City to grow, not just in England, but also in many other parts of the world.

"We are going with the idea of making the name of Manchester City even better known in Asia. That's a target for the club, and I'm also going to meet potential sponsors for the club. I'll be a kind of ambassador for the club and I'm looking forward to it."

Yet City's global plan does not stop there as while Sven and Sun Jihai were in Shanghai, City also announced a partnership agreement with Shanghai Shenhua - the Chinese Super League side which City played on their pre-season tour in 2006.

City have also confirmed partnership agreements with South African side, Thanda Royal Zulu FC, and Russian outfit FC Moscow, with more to be announced in Thailand.

And CityMad can reveal that Perth Glory will be one of them with the Australian A-League side having already sent out a press release to confirm the alliance.

The Blues will share knowledge with its partners at grassroots level through coaching exchanges and youth tournaments. They will also help improve player rehabilitation and training facilities.

City are also set to launch an MCFC Academy in China and have taken three Shenhua players on trial - 21-year-old striker Gao Lin, goalkeeper Wang Da Lei (19) and midfielder Mao Jianqing (22).

"I want young players from all around the world, and particularly young Asian players, to aspire to play for Manchester City, and to develop the structures and means for them to do so," said Thaksin.

Ties between City and the other clubs will also be strengthened through improved commercial and marketing opportunities and initiatives.

Perth added that they hope to have some City players on loan and that some Glory players will visit City's Carrington training base in pre-season.