Soccer-Yeung wants Birmingham to cure China's ills

By Nick Mulvenney

BEIJING, Sept 15 - Hong Kong billionaire Carson
Yeung, who hopes to complete his $130 million purchase of
Birmingham City in the next three weeks, wants the Premier
League club to spearhead a revolution in Chinese soccer.

Yeung's Grandtop International Holdings Limited expected its
bid to buy a controlling interest in the club to be approved by
shareholders at a meeting on Sept. 29, he said.

Emphasising that stability at the English club would be
their initial watchword, Yeung also spoke of his vision of
Birmingham helping to cure China's soccer ills.
"Over the 10 years China has had its sports boosted, but there
has been no development for football," Yeung told a news
conference on Tuesday.

"So I would like to make my humble contribution... In the
future when the team is stablised, we will recruit Chinese
players who have potential.

"My biggest wish is to bring in the English Premier League
club to China, promote English professionalism and football
concepts to the Chinese, and to let the Chinese know how a
English football team is managed."


Grandtop's chief operations officer Sammy Yu reiterated
that they were keen to work with manager Alex McLeish after the
takeover, and said management on the business side of the club
would be strengthened and not necessarily replaced wholesale.

"We will not be crazy buyers, spending crazy money for
nothing," Yu said. "In football, even if you spend a fortune,
it doesn't mean you will succeed. We want to strengthen the
club step-by-step.

"We have a lot of friends in football circles ... with
expertise in the Premier League, of even higher class than the
existing management," he added.

"We will work together with the current management... Mr
Yeung will be the final decision-maker, but we need a team to
run the club."

Yu said former England winger Steve McManaman and France
midfielder Christian Karembeu were expected to help out, but
probably in areas such as scouting and international relations.

The mission to improve Chinese soccer would include a
building a dedicated school, inviting Chinese coaches to St
Andrew's and even inviting the national team to base itself in
Birmingham before big tournaments.

"Helping Chinese football is not to simply about providing
money," Yu added. "Probably Chinese football is poorly
developed because they have too much money.

"Mr Yeung has got the money, but he hopes we work together
to establish a concept of Chinese football and to make it
organised. We will bring in the valuable part of English
(Additional reporting by Liu Zhen; Editing by John O'Brien; To
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