Friday, December 29, 2006

China's Chengdu Blades to take on English clubs

English League Two club Accrington Stanley will play host to China League club, Chengdu Blades, in January, the club announced. Chengdu, which is owned by English Premier League club Sheffield United will be on a four match tour of England which starts against Conference side Woking on 4 January before they take on Stanley at the Fraser Eagle Stadium on 9 January. They will play Sheffield United and their reserve side in the remaining two fixtures on 11 and 15 January respectively.

Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province in northwest China, is in the top half of China's Championship division and is aiming for promotion to China's Super League. The club plays in the Chengdu Sports Centre which has a capacity of 40,000.

"This is a fascinating fixture for us coming so soon after the establishment of the Accrington Stanley Asia website. Chengdu, like us in the UK, is a well known name in Chinese soccer circles. It is likely to be a very close game and, who knows, along with our new web site, could open a few doors for us in Asia," Stanley chief executive, Rob Heys, said.

Chengdu Blades was established in 1996, but in January this year Sheffield United paid £200,000 for a 90 percent stake in the club, the first Chinese football club to be majority-owned by a foreign investor. Sheffield United is also developing a football academy in Hainan Island in southern China and Chinese player, Hao Haidong, is in the club's first team squad.

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