Preparations for the 2019 Premier League Asian Cup are moving into overdrive, as illustrated by the mascots of Manchester City, Newcastle United, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers making a recent tour of Nanjing.
The four teams will compete with each other in Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre on Wednesday, 17 July, while the championship finals shall follow at Shanghai Hongkou Stadium on Saturday, 20 July.
It has been 10 years since the English Premier League came to the Chinese mainland, after the 2009 Beijing Premier League Asian Cup. The 2019 Premier League Asian Cup will be held for the first time in two different cities, giving fans more chance to experience the charm of world-class players and coaches.
This competition is the ninth Premier League Asian Cup (formerly Barclays Asia Cup) since its inception. This season, the Premier League champions, Manchester City, will be visiting Asia for the third time and striving to continue their glory after winning the championship in 2013, while the Wolves will make their first appearance in the Premier League Asian Cup. Newcastle United are competing for the second time since the first Premier League Asian Cup in 2003.
West Ham played in Beijing back in 2009. This time around, they have set the ball rolling early on, with team mascot, Bubbles the Bear, joining Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Wolfie, Manchester City’s Moonchester and Moonbeam and Newcastle United’s Monty Magpie, by taking a tour of Nanjing. The four visited Nanjing Beijing Dong Lu Primary School ahead of International Children’s Day, then took a boat cruise on the Qinhuai River. The mascots rounded out their Nanjing visit with a stop at Confucius Temple, where fans were able to take photos and selfies with both the mascots and the Premier League Asia Trophy.
Speaking with Wangyi Sports, Richard Masters, Acting Chief Executive of the Premier League, said, “We are very happy to bring the Premier League Asian Cup to China again this summer. Asian fans have shown unparalleled enthusiasm and support for the Premier League for a long time”.
The Premier League Asian Cup reflects the Premier League’s continuous attention and commitment to fans across Asia, as well as its determination and commitment to fully support the development of Chinese football at all levels. Since 2007, the “Learning to English Premier League” project has affected more than 1 million young people in 23 cities in China, and trained more than 5,000 coaches and referees.
The Premier League has established a formal strategic cooperation with the Chinese Premier League and the Chinese Football Association, to promote the development of professional football in China. The cooperation between the two sides has been further strengthened since the Sino-British Football Forum of 2016. In recent years, the focus has been on the development of Chinese football youth training. Taking the Asian Cup of the Premier League as an opportunity, a series of activities including coaches’ courses, referees’ training and youth matches will gradually hit the ground to help the development of Chinese football.
While footie fans in Nanjing are still shaking their heads at their unbelievable luck in being next month able to see, not one, but four, Premier League teams playing in their home city, the teams’ mascots’ recent tour ahead of next month’s games is further evidence as to Nanjing now being a preferred choice as host city for major sporting event owners.