Bolton signs development agreement with Wuhan

English Premier League club Bolton Wanderers has signed a partnership agreement with Chinese Super League club Wuhan Guanggu. Wuhan finished fifth in the CSL and won the Chinese Super Cup last season. "We have been looking at China for some time now as a potential future market," Bolton Chief Executive Allan Duckworth told his club. "We understand the need to adopt a longer term approach in developing lasting partnerships and I am delighted that our strategy is starting to bear fruit with the partnership in the City of Wuhan." A 14-strong delegation from the City of Wuhan led by Communist Party Secretary Miao Wei, the Wuhan Football Association Chairman Mr Fu and the Wuhan FC Chairman Chen Xu-dong, were guests of Bolton Wanderers for the historic agreement finalisation and signing.

Over the coming years, Wanderers will build their profile in China through a range of activities that will also assist with the development of grassroots football in Wuhan, one of China's fastest growing areas. These activities will include UEFA coaching courses, a range of seminars, player and coach exchange programmes and the creation and development of the exclusive Wuhan Bolton Wanderers China Football Development Centre - a facility described by Chen Xu-dong as "unique in China."

In addition, both clubs will share ideas for the commercial exploitation of stadia - the city has developed one of the top ten stadiums in Asia with the building of the state-of-the-art 60,000 all-seater Wuhan Stadium built in 2002 - and use the partnership as a platform for North West companies to enter the China market. The town of Bolton will also benefit from the club's respective strategies with economic, education and cultural links all being generated on the back of the profile and relationships built by the clubs.

The partnership has been developed under the guidance of the Cheshire-based consultancy Lynx Group International Ltd. "Previously, clubs have approached China with short term, aggressive commercial agendas and have found the market extremely difficult to negotiate. Now ... Bolton Wanderers Football Club have adopted a much more considered approach and are looking to substantially increase their international profile and supporter base while generating new sustainable income streams." Lynx commercial director, Steve Belli, said. Strangely, Lynx is yet to produce a website.

See also: Three English clubs team for China market (25 Jul 05)