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Port, Suns to play AFL in China in mid-May

AAP logoAAP 26/10/2016 Jason Phelan

Gold Coast and Port Adelaide will square off in Shanghai on May 14 next year in the first AFL match to take place in China.

The Power have been the driving force behind the venture which will take place during round eight, with both teams going into their bye rounds the week after.

The match will be held at Jiangwan Stadium, the same venue that hosted an exhibition match in 2010 between Melbourne and Brisbane.

It will get under way at 1.20pm local time, which will be 3.20pm in Melbourne.

The stadium is used as a golf driving range and will hold about 15,000 spectators after it is reconfigured from its rectangular shape with new turf laid.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan on Wednesday announced the date for the historic match.

"This match is about showcasing our game to Australia's biggest trading partner and reaching out to a new audience here in Australia, in China and throughout the region," McLachlan said.

"This important relationship is worth investing in and we see our game as a great way of building understanding and showcasing this extraordinary country of ours.

"We can be proud that our game is held in such high esteem that we're welcome and invited to play in China."

The AFL has played matches for premiership points outside Australia before, with St Kilda taking a home game to New Zealand each year from 2013-15.

Port Adelaide will have full host team rights - they will wear their home jumper and will have signage rights - and will retain 11 home games at Adelaide Oval, having purchased a Suns' home fixture.

"In our view, it's going to be an annual game in China, but our commitment is far deeper than just the game," Power president David Koch said.

"People might say 'Why would anyone from China come to see the game?' To be frank, no one cares about Port Adelaide in China and no one really cares about AFL but they love Australia.

"What the game will be is Australia Day in Shanghai. There will be a wine and food expo; there will be a travel expo; we'll have an education expo - it's really going to be a taste of Australia."

Koch said his club's commitment was for three years initially, which he hoped would become permanent.

Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane labelled the fixture a win-win situation.

"This is a fantastic initiative - a really good idea," Cochrane said.

"We're really proud to be chosen as the competitor for that round.

"China is rapidly becoming our No.1 source of tourism.

"So it's a real win-win for us - it's a win for our community and it's a win for our footy club."

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