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Juventus look to expand in Asia with new Hong Kong branch

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Cristiano Ronaldo with Juventus in a friendly Seoul

Italian champions Juventus announced on Wednesday that they have opened a new branch in Hong Kong as the Serie A giants look to expand into the Asia-Pacific region.

Juventus see the region as a major area of potential growth and are keen on “strengthening one’s presence” in Asia as they trail behind the top Premier League clubs in revenue.

The purchase of five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid last year for 100 million euros ($110 million) was part of a strategy to boost the Turin team’s profile in Asia.

“By establishing its own base of operations in Hong Kong, the company is expressing its strong desire to move closer to 171 million potential fans, and to lay the fundamentals for long-term planning with structured foundations,” Juventus said in a statement.

Juventus toured Asia this summer playing games in Singapore, China and South Korea. However, Ronaldo’s decision to sit out the game in Seoul caused uproar with fans threatening to sue.

Juventus also has 10 football academies in the region — six in China, one each in Japan, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand.

“The Hong Kong branch becomes a point of reference to understand more clearly the needs, passions and aspirations of the Juventus fans in Asia-Pacific,” the statement added.

Juventus have also been pushing for Serie A to schedule more early kick-offs to help the club grow in Asia.

“We have to find the right balance between domestic and global audiences,” Juventus chief revenue officer Giorgio Ricci told BBC Sport.

“It is not just about the broadcasting times, it is also about the rights distribution and who is showing the games.

“In that sense, the difference between the Premier League and Serie A is huge.”

The eight-time reigning Serie A champions open their title defence against Parma on Saturday at 1700GMT with runners-up Napoli playing Fiorentina at 1945.

Federico Palomba, managing director of the Hong Kong branch, said the region had “huge scope for growth”.

“In the 1990s, Serie A was very popular in China. Now it is coming back again,” the told the BBC.

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