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Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

EFL wants a slice of the action in China

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The draw for the much derided Carabao (i.e. League) cup took place at 4.15 am UK time.  Mouthy Charlton manager Karl Robinson will sound off at any opportunity to get a quote, but this time I agreed with him when he said that he could not respect a competition which held its draw in the small hours of the morning (not to mention the mistakes in earlier draws with Charlton drawn twice in the first round).

The reason the draw was held at that time was that it was part of a cunning EFL plan to get a slice of the action in China with the draw being held in Beijing.   It followed an EFL summit in the Chinese capital with representatives of club owners, prospective partners and the Chinese business community.

The EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said: 'The summit is part of a strategic plan to grow the EFL internationally and boost our profile and exposure in Asia that will hopefully lead to increased investment in our competitions.  Importantly our new international TV deals also provide the perfect platform to showcase the EFL, our clubs and players in China, as well as our new international streaming platform iFollow which allows fans to access live EFL matches across the world.'

There has been a serious interest in football in China for a long time, but it has increased considerably under the presidency of Xi Jinping who wants to make the People's Republic a global football power. Some years ago I was in Kuming in south-west China ( a very interesting area because of the presence of large numbers of ethnic minorities) and I was taken by my hosts to see a training facility used by the national side.  I was not impressed (I must try and dig out the photos).  I am sure this is all being remedied under the present leadership.

Watching television in my hotel room, I was surprised to see then Charlton manager and his assistant Keith Peacock appear on the screen.   I have very little grasp of Mandarin, although I did surprise my young translator at the conference in Kunming when I suggested that a character she was stumbling over meant 'equity' as indeed it did.  It was an inspired guess based on context and a basic understanding of how characters are constriucted.

What I could work our was that Chinese television was providing a very sophisticated analysis of how Curbs and Peacock worked together in a complementary fashion in what was then a Premier League club.

Charlton have been the target of an Australian takeover, but this has been falering.  Speculation is growing that they would be attractive to Chinese investors seeking a London club.