China's Xi to visit Premier League superpower Man City

22nd October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Chinese President Xi Jinping will blow the final whistle on his state visit to Britain on Friday with a visit to Premier League giants Manchester City.

After three days of banquets, processions and trade talks, Xi on his final day will meet former players of both Manchester City and cross-city rivals United, whose current teams will play each other on Sunday.

On their tour of the northern England city, Xi -- reported to be a Manchester United fan -- will be accompanied by British Prime Minister David Cameron on a visit of City's academy, officials and representatives of the club said.

The state-of-the-art training facility includes a 7,000 capacity stadium and 16 football pitches that can cater for over 450 players.

They will observe a training match and meet players who helped build the city's footballing legacy, including former United player-turned pundit Gary Neville and former City stars Patrick Vieira and Mike Summerbee.

They will also meet Denis Law, who scored 171 goals for United during the 1960s and 70s, but who famously scored a goal to relegate the club after transferring to City.

The two leaders will take a tour of the National Football Museum, which houses Chinese and British artefacts including the 1930 World Cup ball and a seven panel football -- a gift from the China Football Museum, which pre-dates 1914.

Former City player and China international Sun Jihai will also be inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame.

The British government is keen to show off its "Northern Powerhouse" project, in which councils in the post-industrial north are being given more powers in an attempt to stimulate their economies.

As part of a raft of partnership deals, Hainan Airlines is expected to announce its first direct flights from Manchester Airport to China.

"China is a key trading partner for the UK and the partnerships being made today will see real investment going into the North," Cameron was due to say, according to extracts from a speech released by Downing Street.

Queen Elizabeth II hosted Xi on the London leg of his trip, throwing a banquet in his honour on Tuesday.

A clutch of business contracts, said by Cameron to be worth almost £40 billion ($61.6 billion, 54.4 billion euros), have been announced during Xi's four-day visit, as well as the launch of the first yuan-denominated bond in London as China seeks to internationalise its currency.

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© 2015 AFP

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