The first Chinese footballer to play professionally in England will be managing a charity game at the Ricoh Arena which will be beamed live to Asia.
Fan Zhiyi – who remains a superstar in China – is general manager of Shanghai Clever FC who are facing a Legends XI at the Ricoh Arena to raise money for the NSPCC in Coventry and XPRO, a charity for former professional footballers in the UK and Ireland.
Dion Dublin and Ian Taylor will be in the line-up for the XPRO Legends XI.
The match on Sunday, September 14, which kicks-off at 3pm, will be shown live from the Ricoh Arena on Chinese TV and the internet in China.
Shanghai Clever FC – a not-for-profit organisation made up of some of the most famous household names in Chinese football – are also playing on September 7 at Morecambe’s Globe Arena on the two-match tour.
Defender Zhiyi joined Crystal Palace in 1998 and was Asia’s Footballer of the Year in 2001, and the Shanghai Clever FC squad is going to the Premier League clash between Crystal Palace and Burnley on September 13 – the 16th anniversary of Zhiyi’s first match for the Eagles.
The squad will also visit Aston Villa, St George’s Park national football centre in Staffordshire and Wembley on their eight-day trip to the UK.
Ken Grant, director of FDKG Limited who has helped to organise the tour, said Shanghai Clever FC is the first officially registered football team from China to play in England.
“The players, management and coaching staff are looking forward to coming to the Ricoh Arena and to raising money for British charities,” he said.
“I’m sure English football fans remember Fan Zhiyi from his playing career at Crystal Palace and he is now manager of a team which was set-up by Mr Yan Yanjie, who is an investor in English football.
“The amateur football club was launched to promote friendship and health through playing football and as a platform for youth football and retired football players’ re-employment through football events and charity activities.
“Many of those involved with Shanghai Clever FC and their sponsors run successful businesses in China and they are to meet civic and business leaders in Coventry, Birmingham and Morecambe to potentially start long-term business links.
“Mr Yan and Mr Zhiyi have also been invited to attend Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons to be publically thanked for their investment in UK plc and to meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.”
Justine Hewitt, stadium manager at the Ricoh Arena, said she hoped football fans from across the Midlands would come along to the match to support the players and raise funds for two worthwhile causes.
“Shanghai Clever FC’s tour to the UK is creating a great deal of interest in China and the fact the matches are being shown live in China will help football to grow further in the country,” she said.
“It would be great for as many football fans as possible to come along to watch the game at the Ricoh Arena and boost the funds of the Coventry NSPCC which is a fantastic charity.”
Tickets, costing £10 for adults and £5 for under-16s and concessions, are on sale from www.theticketfactory.com along with hospitality tickets.