I spoke to Sky Sports reporter Johnny Phillips last week for a piece he did on the increasing amount of Chinese investment directed at English football clubs in recent weeks. Editors being as they are, only a few selected highlights appeared in the finished article, but we covered a lot of ground, so here is an uncut version (completed shortly before the Wolves deal – the latest of the Chinese takeovers – was announced), touching on why rumours spread so quickly, West Brom’s possible owner and his plans for world domination, Sven spouting nonsense and why Wolves fans are probably sleeping better than Villa ones at the moment.
The CSL’s summer transfer window saw yet another record fee paid, as more international players arrived in China, but the league’s top scorer, Demba Ba, is looking at months on the sidelines after a bad leg break.
It is a measure of how much the pulling power of the Chinese Super League (CSL) has exploded over the past year that the summer transfer window, which closed last week, contained a handful of blockbuster deals, but was still considered quieter than expected.
China’s long-term soccer plan calls for the country to be a global force in the game by 2050, but if China’s latest football project comes off, it would arguably become a major footballing power long before that.
The plan has been laid out by the Chinese government, backed, of course, by President Xi Jinping, but the latest moves have come from one of the country’s biggest companies – Wanda, whose boss just happens to be China’s richest man.
AC Milan is the latest in a long line of European football targets picked out by Chinese investors – and it won’t be the last.
On the football pitch, the Italians are known for a slow, tactical style that, while effective, can bore an opponent into submission.
Off the pitch, it may also be a similar story.
Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin become first Chinese players drafted for nine years, but both face an uphill battle to play in the NBA.
A year ago, ice hockey player Song Andong was touted as China’s next big sporting star after being drafted by the NHL’s New York Islanders, then swiftly promoted as one of the faces of China’s 2022 Winter Olympic Games bid campaign. This spring, it is the turn of two Chinese basketball players, Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin, who were drafted by the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies, respectively.
China’s winter sports push continues with arrival of professional ice hockey franchise in the capital.
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Beijing this weekend and is set to sign around 30 new deals with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but the most interesting of all from a sporting perspective will be fresh details about Beijing’s new franchise in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Russia’s answer to the NHL.
Tony Xia has been hailed in some quarters as Aston Villa’s knight in shining armor, but how much is really known about the Chinese businessman?
Reading the Meet our new Owner introductory page on Aston Villa’s official website, new chairman Tony Xia ticks all the right boxes: young, presentable, well-educated, former player, long-time Villa fan and – as an employer of 35,000 people in 75 countries – presumably also fantastically rich.
But the truth, it seems, is not quite that simple. Continue reading Aston Villa’s Chinese owner: Saint or Sinner?
After a breathless few weeks during which the entire sporting world has been talking about Chinese football (with yours truly quoted by AFP three times, FT twice, El Pais, Hicimos, Vice Sports and interviewed by CCTV, BBC and Al Jazeera among others), let’s take a look at a few stories that could be cropping up over the next 12 months…
Headlines last week left readers with little doubt about the state of golf in China:
- “Golf banned for China’s Party members” (CNN)
- “Communist party commands its 88 million members to abstain from playing golf” (Guardian sub-heading)
- “To fight corruption, China officially bans golf for party cadres” (Washington Post)
- “China just banned 88 million people joining golf clubs” (USA Today)
- “Communist Party bans club membership” (BBC)
- “China tees off against golf, gluttony in anti-graft drive” (Reuters)
- “Stocks, Sex and Golf: China’s Ruling Party Targets Temptations” (Bloomberg)
Pretty clear, right? Well, actually, no. As this article from shougolf.com points out [in Chinese], it turns out that the Washington Post and the BBC (its two main targets) and others jumped the gun somewhat on their “China bans golf/golf club memberships” headlines.
CCTV, IMG and Infront – all huge names in the sports industry – were among the suitors to buy the rights to produce and broadcast the Chinese Super League. But these three, and others, were obliterated by the bid submitted by the comparatively little known Tiao Power, worth a staggering 8 billion yuan over five years.