Stephon Marbury buys arena football franchise – in China

Following on from yesterday’s post about the growing trend of athletes becoming sports team owners, it can now be revealed that Stephon Marbury has purchased the Beijing Lions, a cornerstone franchise of the fledgling China Arena Football League.

For those who only remember Marbury from his NBA career, this might seem to come out of left field, but the two-time All Star has been living in Beijing for the past six years, winning three CBA championships while playing for the Beijing Ducks. Despite turning 40 earlier this year, he’s showing no signs of slowing down: after failing to agree an extension to his contract with the Ducks, Marbury has jumped to crosstown rivals the Beijing Fly Dragons to play out what he says will be his final season in the league. Continue reading Stephon Marbury buys arena football franchise – in China

Sports stars are buying teams – even in China

Increasingly in the sports world, former – and even current – sports stars are taking ownership stakes in franchises. Could China be part of this growing trend?

Google “David Beckham” these days and right below the tabloid stories about strife with Victoria will be links to his MLS franchise in Miami. Likewise, Derek Jeter, now that he has finally settled down, is out of the gossip pages and back into the sports headlines thanks to his 4% stake in – and CEO role with – the Miami Marlins.

There are plenty of other well known examples: Michael Jordan (majority owner of Charlotte Hornets), LeBron James (stake in Liverpool FC) , Shaquille O’Neal (stake in Sacramento Kings), Venus & Serena Williams (stake in Miami Dolphins).  Continue reading Sports stars are buying teams – even in China

Why the Mavs have struck gold in China

In a marketing stroke of genius, the Dallas Mavericks are asking their Chinese fans to choose a new (Chinese) name for the team. Here’s why having a good Chinese name for your brand, product or even sport can be the crucial difference between standing out in the world’s largest market or going unnoticed.

The NBA‘s Dallas Mavericks are searching for a new Chinese name after deciding that their previous one  “xiao niu” – literally “little cows” – has nothing to do with the team. Owner Mark Cuban announced the decision on September 11th via the team’s official Weibo account and asked for fans to send in their suggestions for a new name. But the Mavs have been so overwhelmed – reportedly receiving “tens of thousands” of new names – that they said on September 25 they would need more time to evaluate the suggestions and will announce the three finalists at a later date.  Continue reading Why the Mavs have struck gold in China

Just what is going on at Alisports?

One canceled golf tournament might not, at first glance, seem like a huge deal, but a worrying trend of overreaching has dogged Alisports since its inception – and the cracks are starting to show.

Imagine it’s October 2016 and you’re the LPGA. You’ve just signed a ten-year deal with Alisports, giving them ownership rights of your most important tournament in China. All the usual cliches spring to mind – growing the game, millions of new fans, next generation of golfers etc – and you’re feeling pretty pleased with yourselves. It’s Alibaba – they’re one of the biggest companies in China, they know China, Jack Ma is basically Steve Jobs, they’ve got trillions of users etc. What could go possibly wrong?

It turns out the answer is as simple as a piece of paper. Continue reading Just what is going on at Alisports?

Is La Liga really coming to China?

Real Madrid and Barcelona now appear to be closer than ever before to playing regular La Liga games in China – but just how soon could that become a reality, what obstacles still lie in the way and what sort of impact would that have on global sport?

Javier Tebas may not be a household name in the wider football world, but the president of La Liga has certainly been making waves in the industry in recent days, particularly with reference to expanding the global appeal of his league.

In an interview last week with Murad Ahmed from the Financial Times, here’s what Tebas had to say: Continue reading Is La Liga really coming to China?

Three ways Chinese investors can still buy European football clubs

Following the most recent Chinese takeover of a European club, Part 1 took a look at what Southampton fans can expect from their new owner. Part 2, below, will analyze what the latest policy moves from Beijing mean for the future of Chinese investment in football – and why future deals may or may not happen.

Reading the impulsive press headlines over the past few weeks, it would be easy to conclude that Gao Jisheng‘s purchase of an 80% stake in Southampton FC could just be the last Chinese takeover for a while.

  • China clamps down on buying spree in sports (CNN)
  • China to limit overseas investments in…sports (AP)
  • So now it’s official: The brakes are on when it comes to Chinese investment in…sports (Variety)
  • China’s soccer-team buying spree could be over (Globe & Mail)

Bad news, right? The reality, however, is somewhat less clear.

Continue reading Three ways Chinese investors can still buy European football clubs

What Saints fans can expect from their Chinese owners

Recent headlines have proclaimed “the end of Chinese transfers”, with the purchase of Southampton FC by Lander Sports’ Gao Jisheng appearing to sneak in just under the deadline. Part 1 (below) will take a look at what the Gao deal means for Southampton – and what fans can reasonably expect – while Part 2 will analyze the wider implications of Chinese takeovers following the latest developments and regulations.

The transfer of Southampton FC into Chinese hands – the second Premier League club after West Brom to be Chinese-owned – is a big deal.

Continue reading What Saints fans can expect from their Chinese owners

Breaking down Chinese football’s latest brainwaves

Late on Wednesday night, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) released details of two new rules that the Chinese Super League (CSL) must follow. Both rules are significant and have immediate consequences, not just for Chinese football, but for the global transfer market. Let’s break down the what and the why of Chinese football’s latest brainwaves, before examining what consequences are likely.

Chinese football is no stranger to controversy and those in charge don’t always handle things well – from handing out widely inconsistent bans for similar incidents to radically changing the league’s transfer policy in the middle of a transfer window, fans have come to expect the unexpected. Even so, the CFA‘s twin edicts – issued at 9:56pm and 10:01pm on Wednesday night – came from way, way out of left field.

Continue reading Breaking down Chinese football’s latest brainwaves

How money & influence are shaping eSports in China – and beyond

Money is often thought of as synonymous with power and influence – in sports as elsewhere – but it’s not often we see such a clear example of a sponsor brazenly attempting to assert their influence as we’ve seen recently in China.

Alisports, the sports wing of Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, last year announced  a $150 million investment into eSports through a partnership with the International eSports Federation (IeSF). That was followed up by a 10-year deal to promote the Chinese city of Changzhou as an eSports hub, with the city set to host a number of World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) events, offering total prize money of $5.5 million, while another Chinese city, Suzhou, was also designated by Alisports as a major international sports city, with eSports also a central part of that aim.

Continue reading How money & influence are shaping eSports in China – and beyond

Yao Ming set to play biggest game of his life

Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming may be best known for his on-court exploits, but he’s now facing a challenge of a very different sort as he looks to reform Chinese basketball. In a Chinese sports version of Bannon vs. Kushner, the big man is battling “the establishment” in order to gain influence behind the scenes. But the obstacles he’s facing may be so entrenched that the entire sports industry in China is affected.

Rumors started to circle earlier this year that Yao Ming would be appointed as the new head of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), and despite resistance in certain quarters – including this editorial from state-run news agency Xinhua which called him too young and too inexperienced [link in Chinese] – he seemed the obvious candidate.

Continue reading Yao Ming set to play biggest game of his life

Sports business news and analysis in China and Asia