A-League to play regular season football match in China

Melbourne, June 7 (IANS) Australia’s premier football league, the Australian Football League (AFL), has moved ahead to play a regular season match in China in 2017.

Travis Auld, the general manager of AFL operations, visited Shanghai last week inspecting multiple venues for the proposed venture, reports Xinhua.

The AFL is hopeful that one of its 18 clubs, Port Adelaide, will play one regular season match each season for the next three years in Shanghai, beginning as early as 2017.

Auld was joined on his mission by the AFL’s national venues manager Simon Gorr, a Port Adelaide official, a turf consultant and a representative of venue and event management firm Populous.

“We decided to get everybody together so that we could look at the sites in one hit. But there are now two or three options worth a serious look,” Auld told News Limited on Tuesday.

In order to see a game take place during the 2017 AFL season, which is from March to September, all parties will have to reach an agreement on a venue by the end of August.

“We would need a decision by then for fixture reasons and preparation of the turf. It gets pretty cold over Christmas so we need to lay turf works by September,” Auld said.

The Jiangwan Sports Center in Shanghai’s Yangpu District was one of the venues to come under close consideration, having previously hosted a pre-season exhibition game between the Brisbane Lions and Melbourne Football clubs.

The AFL expects a crowd of 12,000 to attend the first game, likely to feature Port Adelaide and the Gold Coast Suns, but acknowledged that any crowd over 8,000 would be acceptable.

Around 7,100 people were in attendance for the exhibition game between Brisbane and Melbourne in Shanghai in 2010 but the AFL believes a regular season game will be a bigger draw.

Port Adelaide has also agreed to coach Ken Hinkley and his players holding an annual training camp every December in Shanghai.

–IANS

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