China's first 'football city' signs deal with Liverpool

China's first 'football city' signs deal with Liverpool

Liverpool City Region has signed an agreement with the Chinese Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia, as it seeks to model itself on the home of Liverpool and Everton football clubs following the visit of a delegation from the region.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement will see the two regions build on existing ties and work together to create a positive, mutually beneficial relationship.

Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia has been nominated as China's first Football City in a national program directed by President Xi that aims to create 20,000 football schools.

Bai Xiangqun, vice-governor of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Government, said: "There are many opportunities to strengthen relationships with Liverpool. For example, Inner Mongolia has been tasked by President Xi with creating China’s first "National Football Centre" which will not only bring the importance of this international game to the youth and social programs of China, but strengthen international relationships in many countries. Liverpool has a strong heritage and great experience in this area, from which we can learn."

Ellen Cutler, director of Invest Liverpool, said: "We’re delighted to be formalising our relationship with this thriving region through the signing of this MOU. Inner Mongolia is one of the fastest growing economies in western China and we look forward to strengthening networks and exploring potential for mutually beneficial trade and investment opportunities.

"We hope to be able to send a delegation to Inner Mongolia in the near future and welcome the advent of this new chapter in the Liverpool City Region’s relationship with this culturally rich, vibrant and progressive Chinese region."

Inner Mongolia is the second largest economy in western China. Urban disposable income per capita grew by 8.5% in 2015 and the mineral-rich cities of Baotou and Erdos have some of the highest wealth levels in China.