EPL's Reds hoping to spark Liverpool-mania amongst the young Chinese middle-class

England's Liverpool Echo imagined what sort of mania home town music heroes, The Beatles, could have generated in the China of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution to describe the fan interest that Liverpool Football Club enjoyed during its recent exhibition game against Sunray Cave FC in the southern Chinese city of Guangdong.

"The foyer of the team hotel, lined with marble and Liverpool fans in rows five deep, gave some indication of what it might have been like," it said..

"When a Liverpool player walked in there was a collective gasp and a volley of flashbulbs as bright as the lightning flitting through the skies above the Pearl River, which is as wide but rather more sluggish than the Mersey at Pier Head. And it was ‘only’ Ian Rush.

"When a member of Kenny Dalglish’s playing squad peered over the balcony, the screaming started in earnest. Then, the players were bundled into coaches to be paraded around a nearby shopping centre," and so on.

Surprisingly, though, the newspaper agreed that Liverpool's popularity in Asia was due to the club's success when satellite broadcasts, particularly to Malaysia and Singapore, "began in the years when Rush and Dalglish ruled the English game."

Then a rigidly Communist country, Red China didn't enjoy similar access to the Liverpool Reds and remains a "relatively virgin territory" for English Premier League clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United.

Last year, the newspaper reported, some market research was done among the "new, young Chinese middle-class" as to how they rated the EPL’s ‘Big Four’.

The most popular adjectives used to describe Manchester United were “successful”, “aggressive” and “dominant”. Arsenal were “young” and “sexy”. Chelsea were “wealthy” but “superficial”. Liverpool were “honest”, “reliable” and had “history”.

See also: Man Utd "forced to flee" from "fanatical" Chinese and Notes on foreign penetration of Chinese football and China 'bragging rights' to England and Man United