SAFC links up with key partners

by Stuart Vose

Club maximising potential in Hong Kong.

Sunderland hosted a successful business networking event at the team hotel in Hong Kong on Tuesday as the club continues its rapid international expansion.

Partners including Bidvest's Hong Kong subsidiary Angliss, TLC88, Sunderland University and a host of others were in attendance, with Sunderland's chief executive Margaret Byrne, finance director Angela Lowes and commercial director Gary Hutchinson leading the welcome.

The event was designed as a networking opportunity to bring together representatives of Asian companies and firms with an interest in the area.

Guests were also able to mingle with the players as a number of Paolo Di Canio's squad were in attendance for an exclusive meet-and-greet.

Stars including John O'Shea, Adam Johnson and Seb Larsson chatted with the invited attendees and football fever soon took over – with some of the hotel staff even donning Sunderland shirts!

Meanwhile, new signing Emanuele Giaccherini, who joined the club last week, made his first public appearance as a Sunderland player, while goalkeepers Keiren Westwood and Vito Mannone and midfielder Jack Colback also dropped in.

The evening was rounded off with a VIP invitation to the Hong Kong Stadium to watch the team being put through their paces at an open training session.

Gary Hutchinson said: “We are absolutely delighted to have welcomed so many new and existing partners to what was an extremely successful event.

“The club is rapidly expanding internationally and the point was underlined by the number of new faces we had the pleasure of welcoming.

“This event is part of our comprehensive international development strategy, which is already bearing fruit.

“We are talking with a number of potential new partners and further work in Asia will be announced over the coming months.

“This is an exciting time for the club and we are looking to continue expanding on the partnerships front.

Sunderland have been making inroads around the world with a number of initiatives already announced.

The ground-breaking Invest in Africa partnership propelled the club onto the African continent, with a world-first tie-up with the Nelson Mandela Foundation following.

Meanwhile, the Black Cats welcomed President Kikwete of Tanzania recently to launch a new Academy project in association with energy giants Symbion Power.

South African-based conglomerate Bidvest were also recently announced as the club's new principal partner.

"Of course, we have already made significant and sustained progress in Africa," Gary added.

"This is something we are aiming to build upon as we move forward and look to maximise the club's potential."