Wednesday 22 January 2014
As well as giving fans of the Barclays Premier League the opportunity to experience the competition at first hand, the Barclays Asia Trophy in Hong Kong last summer also led to a more permanent legacy in the region with community investment by the Premier League to help develop football.
For Sunderland AFC, one of the three participating Barclays Premier League clubs who finished runners-up in the BAT 2013 to Manchester City, the tournament also helped them to establish ties in Hong Kong.
"The visit has enabled us to showcase our work in fanbase engagement"
A partnership with Yuen Long FC was started and the relationship grew last month as Sunderland welcomed a delegation from the Hong Kong First Division club to Wearside as part of the knowledge-sharing between the teams.
The visit was the Hong Kong club's first to England and they visited the Stadium of Light to watch Sunderland's Barclays Premier League match against Aston Villa. They were also given tours of the club's Academy of Light and the club's official charity, the Foundation of Light.
"We met with the club during our pre-season tour of Hong Kong and were very keen to introduce them to Sunderland and our excellent facilities," Sunderland's commercial director Gary Hutchinson said. "The visit has enabled us to showcase our work in fanbase engagement and our expertise to implement community schemes in Hong Kong, but more importantly understand and learn from their in-depth knowledge of Asian football.
"It was fantastic to be able to show them the stadium on matchday along with our excellent training and catering facilities and they were very impressed with what they saw."
Yuen Long returned home with new ideas and inspiration from Sunderland, including information about facilities and outreach centres and how to implement community schemes in Hong Kong.