Chinese firms look to UK to grow sporting economy

Updated 2017-09-05 14:00:42 China Daily
Lee Garratty (right), head of commercial at Soccerex is giving a tour to the Chinese delegation. (WANG MINGJIE/ CHINA DAILY)

Lee Garratty (right), head of commercial at Soccerex is giving a tour to the Chinese delegation. (WANG MINGJIE/ CHINA DAILY)

Chinese companies have travelled to the UK for advice and ideas on how to further develop China's growing sports economy.The delegation, mainly from property companies interested in developing sports venue or sports towns in China, including Insite China and Hangzhou Yamei Sports Development, are in the UK for a week.It is the second time that such a visit has been organized by the UK government's Department for International Trade.The visit will include a tour to Manchester City Football Club's ground and its training academy. The Chinese delegates will also attend a UK-China automotive racing meeting and a horse race meeting."I would like to see how sports in this country interweaves with retail and recreation industries," said He Cheng, chief executive of Insite China."Sport has already become a part of people's lifestyle and it's common to see people go to the gym or go skating at the shopping centers in China," he said.Chen Xiezhong, general manager of Hangzhou Yamei Sports Development, said his focus is on how the UK develops its sports and soccer in particular. He said he believes the main strength for the UK sports industry is its talent."They have many elite management teams and high-level players," Chen said. "If China wants to become a top football nation, the first step would be to have high quality management teams, and to start training players from a very young age to cultivate their football interest."Chen, who is also an avid sports player and marathon runner from Zhejiang, said China's determination to grow its sports culture is very noticeable.In the past, the provincial government of Zhejiang granted around 50 million yuan (.7 million) in sports subsidies, "but now it's gone up to 100 million yuan", he said.Samuel Raff, first secretary to the head of creative industries and sports at the Department for International Trade, said there is a natural affiliation between the UK and China in soccer."The UK has got a lot of experience-from grassroots training into stadium development into technology," said Raf , "so across all those different areas that we can help".Lee Garratty, head of commercial at Soccerex, the global soccer networking and consultancy company, said it's exciting to see China's soccer ambitions.He said the company can help in the creation of academies, sports hubs and technical advice."At Soccerex, we have experts who have developed technology and used big data in coaching and skills analytics," Garratty said. "I think that's really important for China, as it's got such grand visions for football moving forward."Soccerex is taking its soccer business platform to China for the first time next year. It has signed a four-year agreement to host Soccerex China, a new soccer business event, with the first edition taking place in Shenzhen in April 2018.

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