Hebei celebrates its second division soccer team

Updated: 2013-01-21 15:53

By TANG ZHE (chinadaily.com.cn)

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Hebei welcomed its first second-division soccer team in more than two decades when Shijiazhuang Yongchang Junhao Football Club announced its transfer from Fujian province to Shijiazhuang, capital city of Hebei province, on Friday.

The team, formerly known as Fujian Junhao Football Club finished third in the second league last season and will be based at Shijiazhuang Yutong International Sports Center this year.

It will become the region's highest ranked professional soccer team in 23 years, after the Hebei team slipped from the second tier to the third in 1990.

Xu Tao, a former national team goalkeeper in early 1990s, has taken up the role as general manager.

According to club chairman Zhang Xi, the club will invest no less than 100 million yuan ($16.1 million) this year and bring in several Hebei players to enhance its bond with local fans. The club has also set its sights on reaching the Chinese Super League in its second year in the city.

Tang Qing, director of the Shijiazhuang Sports Bureau, said the club's home stadium, completed in 1994, was an aging facility and was lagging behind the standards of top league facilities. The local government has pledged its full support to the club and has promised to upgrade the stadium.