The Australian Football League (AFL) Aussie rules competition is set to stage a regular-season game in China after a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with a view to holding a match in the country.
AFL team Port Adelaide and its new partner, property developer Shanghai Cred Real Estate (SCRE), signed the agreement with the AFL in Shanghai today (Thursday). Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull witnessed the agreement.
The Memorandum will also see Port Adelaide, SCRE and the AFL strive to ensure that the league receives significant coverage on Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. Port Adelaide has been pushing the AFL’s move into the Chinese market and this month struck a rights deal with CCTV.
Should the match go ahead, it would not replace one of Port Adelaide’s home games, the club confirmed. The match could take place as early as next year. “Today is a day that has been the culmination of a lot of hard work and to be honest, a day that many thought would never happen.” Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas said.
“I’m incredibly proud to have a signed a Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the Port Adelaide Football Club that ensures we will do everything possible to play a game for Premiership points here in Shanghai as early as next season.”
Port Adelaide’s multi-million dollar, three-year deal with SCRE will result in the club holding annual training camps in Shanghai. It will also continue to sponsor the South China AFL, Guandong AFL, Team China and the Auskick development programme.
Port Adelaide will also help produce AFL-specific programmes for CCTV and will organise regular business events in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan added: “Port Adelaide, through the efforts of chairman David Koch and chief executive Keith Thomas, has done much outstanding work in the last four years to rebuild its position and profile within our competition.
“The club has now taken another significant step forwards with its move into China, to further expand its supporter base and build the wider exposure of the club and our game beyond Australia with its commitment to support school and university programmes in Shanghai, Guangzhou, along with current AFL programmes in China.”