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Inter Shanghai in Xi'an Move

From the 2006 season Inter Shanghai will play its home matches in Shaanxi Province capital Xi'an as owner Xu Zexian looks to cash in on the local fanbase.

With three China Super League teams and one China League side in Shanghai, Xu feels that competition in the eastern coastal city is too strong and that a move to Xi'an would be in the best interests of Inter Shanghai as the Terracotta Army city is currently without a top-level football team after Shaanxi Guoli moved to Harbin before being hit with a two-season ban.

Xu Zexian's Xi'an-based Xi Xia Real Estate company will take a minority shareholding in Inter Shanghai Football Club, with Yungtay (who bought out from Cosco last season) to retain the majority stake as according to CFA regulations a club cannot be sold to new owners for two years.

Xu Zexian has refused to speak the media about the move, and has not confirmed that his real estate company in Xi'an has a direct relationship with Inter Shanghai. But Xu has made frequent trips to Xi'an over the last week and Shaaxi province fans have already organised a ceremony to welcome their new team.

Wang Guolin will continue as the club's general manager, with head coach Cheng Yaodong also to stay on. Former Shaanxi Guoli sponsors Xi'an Lijun Medical Ltd. have agreed to sponsor Inter Shanghai, and a team name change is considered necessary to win over the local fans.

Cheng Yaodong said: "The club must have its reasons for moving west. Xi’an has the best fan market in China, and I believe that with the support of Xi'an fans Inter Shanghai can develop better.

"I have never lived in Xi'an before and I don't know much about the city, but I believe that fans from Shaanxi province will give Inter the same support they gave to Shaanxi Guoli."

As for the Inter Shanghai players, most are expected to continue at the club after the move to Xi'an, including the Ghanaian striker Kwame Ayew who will be persuaded by club officials to stay on for another season.

(Sinosoc.com December 14, 2005)

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