Birmingham to make bow at Bird's Nest

BEIJING - Birmingham City will be the first English club to play at the Bird's Nest stadium when they take on Chinese champions Beijing Guoan on July 21.

Hong Kong tycoon Carson Yeung, the first Chinese to own an English Premier League club, has fulfilled his promise to bring his team to China as quickly as possible after buying Birmingham last year.

The match at the 80,000 capacity stadium takes place three days before Birmingham take on Liaoning at Shenyang's 60,000-seat Olympic Stadium - another purpose built venue for the 2008 Games.

A third match will be announced later, the Birmingham City website said, but as it is described as a "pre-season tour of China and Hong Kong" it will almost certainly take place in the former British colony.

Yeung is the former owner of the Hong Kong Rangers.

China has become a favourite touring ground for European clubs in recent years. Manchester United, Inter Milan and Lazio came through last year and Real Madrid and Barcelona are expected after the World Cup finals this year.

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