Sydney strengthens links with Asia

Sydney FC joins forces with Chinese powerhouse, Shanghai Shenhua.

After helping blaze the trail for Australian clubs in Asia following its- championship win in the first season of the Hyundai A-League, Sydney FC has taken another step towards expanding its links with the world-s fastest growing football federation, joining forces with Chinese powerhouse, Shanghai Shenhua.

The Sky Blues have agreed to enter a sister-club relationship with the leading Chinese Super League side, signing a Letter of Intent at the Sydney Football Stadium on Monday.

The partnership, which will be formalised during the coming weeks with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, will provide for matches to be staged in Shanghai and Sydney, exchanges of techniques and ideas, as well player development through planned player exchanges. It's proposed that both clubs will also promote sales of each other-s merchandise.

President of Shanghai Shenhua, Zhou Jun, said that his club was pleased to be able to formalise a relationship with the only Hyundai A-League club in Australia-s largest city. He believed that the partnership would provide substantial benefits as a result of access to enhanced coaching, sports- medicine and sports science techniques.

Sydney FC Chairman, Andrew Kemeny, said that the partnership with Shanghai Shenhua was the first step in establishing the brand of Sydney FC within Asia and had the potential to provide his club with benefits in a number of areas.

“It-s one of the most exciting things to happen to us all season. We-ve very much looking forward to a very mutually beneficial relationship in the long run,” said Mr Kemeny. “The seasons are hardly overlapping at all, so it gives us a very good opportunity and this is why it is a good thing to do this with a Chinese team as well.”

Both clubs are keen to schedule the first of what will become regular friendly clashes as soon as possible, with Sydney FC likely to make a trip to China early in 2009.

“We are looking at a possibility of as early as February or March this year, or alternately the middle of the year like July. That-s a preliminary discussion at this stage,” said the Sydney Chairman.

Shanghai Shenhua recently finished as runners-up in the 2008 Chinese Super League, drawing their final match, when victory would have sealed their first championship in the revamped competition.

Shanghai Shenhua Football Club

Stadium: Hongkou Stadium (Capacity 35,000)

Founded: 1993

Honours: Chinese Super League Runners-up 2005, 2006, 2008 Jia A Champions 1995, 2003 Chinese Super Cup Winners 1996, 1999, 2002 China FA Cup Winners 1998