Chelsea FC meets with China Football Association

English Premier League champion Chelsea Football Club met today with the Chinese Football Association and their worldwide strategic partner Infront to discuss a possible long-term co-operation arrangement. The three-and-a-half-hour meeting took place in Beijing where Chelsea was helping to promote London as part of the Mayor of London's delegation visiting the Chinese capital and Shanghai, the club's website reported.

The first stage of the arrangement will be an invitation to the Chinese Olympic team to train at Chelsea's academy and first team training centre at Cobham before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. That offer was revealed in Beijing on yesterday by Chelsea and the Mayor of London as part of the spirit of Olympic co-operation between the two cities who will host the next two Games in 2008 and 2012. The offer to use Cobham was confirmed and discussed at the meeting with leading members of the CFA.

Further details and logistics of the team's visit, as well as other potential aspects of the relationship will be discussed in more talks between Chelsea's chief executive Peter Kenyon and business affairs director Paul Smith with Infront.

"We had an excellent meeting with the CFA in which it was clear there was a mutual aim of assisting Chinese football through help to their Olympic team in the short-term, and to explore the possibilities of developing a longer relationship that would benefit both parties. Chelsea has always made it clear that the three key markets for the development of the club world wide are London, China and North America. This trip has been a great opportunity to further the first two of those and we recently announced a major strategic alliance in the United States with AEG," Kenyon said.

"The philosophy on all of these is that Chelsea wants to establish long-term partnerships which not only benefits Chelsea and the English Premier League but also the development of grass roots and top-flight football in these areas. In China, for example, 13 major European teams toured last summer, with few seeking to leave a deeper lasting market legacy. That will not be Chelsea's approach and we look forward to further positive dialogue with the CFA."

See also: Chelsea FC an official London ambassador to China (8 Apr) and Chelsea to China and USA to become 'World No 1' (30 Mar) and Chelsea for partnering not exploiting Asian football (2 Mar).