Charlton pen deal with Chinese club

Charlton Athletic have signed a partnership agreement with Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng -- the club that sold Zheng Zhi to the Addicks.

The deal will provide commercial and playing benefits for both sides.

Charlton will tour China in the next three years but the return to Asia is just one aspect of the overseas agreement between the two teams.

"Starting next month, and for the next three years, we intend to work closely with Shandong Luneng for the benefit of both clubs," Charlton chief executive Peter Varney said on the club website.

"We have developed a close relationship ever since ZiZi (Zheng Zhi) first came to the club on loan in December 2006, and that was strengthened when we negotiated his transfer last summer."

Shandong's academy is regarded as one of the best in China, while the first team won the Chinese Super League and cup competition in 2006. They also reached the quarter-finals of the 2007 AFC Champions League.

Varney said there would be a series of player and coaching exchanges at youth level while Charlton would devise a new management model for Shandong's academy.

"We are also currently talking to them about the possibility of Charlton matches being shown in China, because there is huge interest in ZiZi," he added.

Under the deal, Charlton, currently fifth in The Championship, will get first call on Shandong's players, and will also have access to their scouting department.

"They will keep us in touch with the scouting situation in China, plus Asia, thanks to their regular involvement with the continent's best sides in the AFC Champions League," said Varney.

China captain Zheng has blossomed under current Addicks boss Alan Pardew, and has already scored nine times this season.