AFL to step up China expansion plans with office in Shanghai
Australian Rules football’s Australian Football League is set to step up its efforts to expand into China by opening an office in the country.
The AFL's new office, which will open within a few weeks, will be based in Shanghai and be staffed by two full-time employees, according to David Stevenson, the AFL’s general manager of China.
Stevenson told the AFL website: "They'll be primarily focused on driving commercial outcomes and building long-term partnerships with either Australian companies trying to grow into China or Chinese companies trying to grow into Australia.
"They'll also be driving strong broadcast partnerships. We have a game a week on TV there and some strong social media coverage. Thirdly, the government plays such an important role, so it shows the government that we are long-term committed to China and building those partnerships."
The AFL has had a desire to expand into the Chinese market in recent years, which has led to the league staging an annual game in the Far East country since 2017.
Port Adelaide and Gold Coast Suns contested the games in Shanghai in both 2017 and 2018. This year’s game, which takes place on 2 June, will be played between Port Adelaide and St. Kilda.
The upcoming clash at Shanghai’s Jiangwan Stadium is expected to be a sell-out, with capacity at about 11,000, and the AFL says it “will break even from the game financially”.
The AFL views China as an “untapped market” and “a revenue source to help fund other areas, such as the AFL Women's competition and grassroots football.”
Last year, the AFL debuted AFLX, the new fast-paced, shortened format of the sport, to help it tap into the riches of China and India.
The league also recently secured the support of Kennedy, Australia’s luxury retail brand, to grow the game in China, as it came on board as a sponsor for the China game until the end of the 2021 season.
Kennedy is the official match day partner and participating teams will compete for the ‘Kennedy Cup’ over the next three years.