Monday, July 25, 2005

Three English clubs team for China market

Three English football clubs have joined forces with Lynx Group International Ltd to develop a strategic approach to the Chinese football market. Bolton Wanderers, Everton and Hull City have each developed long term strategies for different cities within China, but intend to work together to develop long-term relationships with the Chinese football authorities.

Steve Bellis, Commercial Director of the Lynx Group, spent 14 years as marketing manager of Football League 2 club Stockport County, which he took into China, so successfully, that the small club reportedly "dominates the sport in Liaoning, population 42 million" with a fan base "mushroomed across a dozen provinces in central and western China" so that, "each summer the team plays to sell out stadiums in Hubei, Shaanxi and Sichuan".

Over the next three years, the three allied clubs will build their profile in China through a range of activities that will also assist with the development of grass roots football in China. These activities will include complimentary coaching clinics, a range of seminars, player and coach exchange programmes and commercial matches.

Previously, clubs have approached China with short term, aggressive commercial agendas and have found the market extremely difficult to negotiate. Now they have adopted a much more considered approach and are looking to substantially increase their international profile and supporter base while generating new sustainable income streams.

The cities and towns of, Bolton, Liverpool and Hull will also benefit from their club's respective strategies with economic, education and cultural links all being generated on the back of the profile and relationships built by the clubs.

"We've been looking at China for some time now as a potential future market. We understand the need to adopt a longer term approach in developing lasting partnerships in China. Lynx Group have the market knowledge and experience to help us achieve our objectives and maximise potential opportunities, and we are delighted to be working with them," Bolton Wanderers Chief Executive, Allan Duckworth, commented.

This is the first time that three clubs have approached an international market collectively and Everton Chief Executive Keith Wyness has no doubts that this joined up long term approach is the right way forward.

"As part of the whole Asian market strategy there has been developments in China. With Kejian being the previous sponsor we have connections in China and with Li Tie we've had visibility in China. The main thing is that we haven't had a cohesive long-term strategy and in order to do that we've started to work with the experts in the area called the Lynx Group who have connections both political and business-wise in China," he said.

For Hull City, this is another massive step for a club who have just enjoyed back-to-back promotions and are attracting attention worldwide. The Tigers are set to forge links with the Far East in a tie-up with the Chinese city of Yingkou.

Hull City Chairman Adam Pearson is pleased to be able to work alongside two of the Premierships most successful clubs as his club approach the Far Eastern market for the first time "We have identified a number of exciting opportunities for education and business links which could benefit the City of Hull and will raise the profile of both the City and the football club in the rapidly expanding Chinese market"

There is the possibility that one or two of the clubs will tour China next May, generating commercial sponsorship and enhancing their profile in one of the world's most exciting markets.