Man City to play pre-season games in China

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Watford - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - March 9, 2019 Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff/File Photo

(Reuters) - Manchester City will play pre-season matches in the Chinese cities of Nanjing and Shanghai in July as part of the Premier League Asia Trophy, the English champions said on Tuesday.

City are part of a four-strong contingent at the tournament, along with Newcastle United, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

City’s first match is a semi-final at Nanjing’s Olympic Sports Centre on July 17, which will determine whether they take part in the third-place playoff or final at Shanghai’s Hongkou Stadium on July 20.

“We’re delighted to return to China and take part in the Premier League Asia Trophy,” City’s chief operating officer Omar Berrada said in a statement.

“China is a special place for City – it’s where (manager) Pep Guardiola began his City tenure in 2016 and we have a huge number of passionate followers across the country.”

Last month, City Football Group (CFG) announced it had jointly purchased China League Two side Sichuan Jiuniu FC.

CFG is a holding company in which Abu Dhabi United Group own an 87 percent stake with the remaining 13 percent held by the China Media Capital consortium (CMC).

City announced last month that they would play a pre-season match in Japan for the first time as part of their Asian Tour, and are set to take on J League side Yokohama F. Marinos, in which CFG owns a minority stake, on July 27.

Guardiola’s team are currently second in the Premier League table, two points behind Liverpool who have played one game more.

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney