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  • Andrew Collins

ICC China 2016: Bigger and Better

Updated: Jun 4, 2019

This year’s instalment of the International Champions Cup China will host the first ever Manchester derby outside of England. With Borussia Dortmund and their passionate Chinese fan base also joining the tournament, we can expect to see the tournament grow on the successful 2015 version.

Reflecting on last year’s edition, Ned Negus, ICC Sales & Marketing Vice President explained; “While we have a long way to go to reach our ambitious vision for ICC China, we were incredibly pleased with how the clubs approached it and in-turn, the reaction of the fans. Already, the tournament has created a new paradigm for touring in China; top quality match-ups, higher levels of performance and a premium event experience. Critically, fans now know that the very best teams in the world football will come back to China every year for the ICC– the days of fly-in fly-out ad-hoc tour matches in China are coming to an abrupt end. The old model didn’t deliver value for clubs, fans or commercial partners. The feedback from fans is that ICC on the other hand absolutely does and we are confident it will continue to deliver more value each year.”


Focus this year is very much on building upon the success of 2015, without implementing wholesale changes to the tournament’s structure. “We don’t want to change things up too much to be honest. Our focus will be on activating and engaging fans earlier than last year, in collaboration with clubs and commercial partners. For example, activity our around our event launch this year in March was much greater. The ICC this year will aim to give fans more direct touch-points with the players when teams are in market and more interesting content to engage with in the build-up.”

Much of the hype around March’s launch centred around the significance of the very first Manchester derby taking place outside of the UK. “I think it’s a bold statement that shows respect to China as a football nation on the rise. Staging the first ever Manchester Derby in Beijing shows just how seriously the clubs are taking the market and their fans here.”

Meanwhile, the addition of Borussia Dortmund to this year’s roster completes an exciting trio of competing clubs, all with significant followings in China. “German football commands a great deal of interest in China after the 2014 World Cup victory. Dortmund of course provide great opposition for the two Manchester clubs on the pitch, and have some of the best fans in the world. We hope to see the renowned passion of Dortmund fans in the stands in China too – and we’ve already had our launch ‘crashed’ by some of their fans, which was great fun.”

From a sponsorship perspective too, the 2016 edition of the tournament promises to be an even more attractive proposition than 2015. “Last year we started very well, bringing the likes of Samsung, Adidas, Suning, Luyuan and EA Sports on-board. The reaction to this year is of course even better now that the market has got a taste of the value the platform can bring. Sponsors see value in the premium association, the visibility to a very critical demographic and the extensive opportunities to activate in ways that quite frankly, are not possible on many traditional sport platforms. We can push the boundaries on that front, which is what sponsors are demanding.”

The fans too are equally demanding, with last year’s event selling over 110,000 tickets. “On average last year, we sold 95% of available tickets to each match. So clearly our objective and prediction for this year is to do at least that well again.”

Naturally, digital will play a significant role in the promotion of those tickets, as well as the competition as a whole. ”Digital is a key part of how we reach both the short and long term objectives of the tournament. From building a relationship with fans of European football in China, to helping our sponsors activate and then of course selling tickets, it will be a key part of what we do.”

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