Chelsea plan trip to China in July 2008

Chelsea are to play their first ever match in China in Guangzhou in July, the English Premier League club announced on Friday.

Chief Executive Peter Kenyon confirmed that the city in the south of China would host the opening match of the club’s pre-season Asian tour, with Chinese Super League team Guangzhou Pharmaceutical the opposition. The match will be played in the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the 2010 Asian Games, and is currently scheduled for July 23.

Kenyon said:

“I am delighted that we are coming to China, and particularly to Guangzhou, for the first time. We have a lot of support there and now we can give our Chinese fans the opportunity to see us play.”

I’m not sure what he’s talking about, but I’m pretty sure that this will help Chelsea make more money – knowing that they sell out for Bolton games in that region, Chelsea are going to be a sure hit.

The match is the second of the summer tour to be confirmed following the announcement earlier this week that Chelsea will play a Malaysian Super League select side in Kuala Lumpur on July 29.

That match remains subject to the Malaysian authorities allowing Chelsea manager Avram Grant and defender Tal Ben Haim, both Israeli nationals, into the country. Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with Israel and Israeli citizens need special permission to enter the country. Of course, Chelsea could let Grant play the martyr (they might have sold Ben Haim by then) and stay away for that one game – what’s one’s pride in the face of millions and millions of pounds in revenue and shirt sales?

Chelsea’s Asian tour is part of a push to build the club’s global brand in a region where Manchester United and Liverpool have much bigger fan bases. Much, much bigger. Like, huge. But then again, like I said, even Bolton get a huge pop, so Chelsea can be assured of a sellout.

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