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

Minor deal set to have major repercussions in Chinese football

A second division Spanish club taking a small stake in a third division Chinese club won’t make global headlines, but it could see the start of a wave of foreign investment in Chinese football, now that outbound acquisitions have effectively been stopped.

A year ago, Chinese companies were rushing full steam ahead to invest in – or buy outright – soccer clubs from around the world. From Aston Villa and West Brom to Espanyol and Inter Milan, the first waves of investment appeared to herald many more dealsThis headline in The Telegraph from September last year, for instance, claimed that another 30 Chinese billionaires were looking to buy clubs.

How quickly things change.

Continue reading Minor deal set to have major repercussions in Chinese football

Why the NHL will make it in China – and why it won’t

A large contingent of NHL executives made the trip out to China this week to announce the league’s first initiatives in the country: preseason games between the LA Kings and the Vancouver Canucks in Shanghai (Sept 21) and Beijing (Sept 23), kicking off an eight-year slate of games, which could be upgraded to regular season match-ups as early as 2018. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that might help the NHL in China, as well as the obstacles that lie ahead.

Why hockey will make it in China

1) The timing is right. With less than five years to go to the 2022 Olympics, the government is making a serious push to develop winter sports, and it’s no accident that Chinese President Xi Jinping has been featured in very lengthy segments on the national nightly news touring Olympic venues on more than one occasion this year. As I told the Globe and Mail after the announcement was made, there are actually a lot of indications that the government is moving away from soccer at the moment, and making winter sports its No. 1 priority within the sports industry.

Continue reading Why the NHL will make it in China – and why it won’t

Lippi cashes in on China’s Mission Impossible

It clearly takes a lot to tempt Italian coaching legend Marcello Lippi out of retirement for one last job, but fortunately for him there are some very deep pockets in China.

While Lippi will be officially announced as the new coach of China’s national soccer team on Friday, reports have revealed that he and his team – of whom former Everton star Li Tie will be a part – will collect 20 million euros annually over an initial two-year term.

Given China’s precarious state in the final round of AFC qualifying – bottom of Group A after four games – it’s less like a final throw of the dice than a refusal to accept that the die has already been cast.

In the video below, China Sports Insider’s Mark Dreyer discusses the Lippi hiring on CCTV News, with Yan Qiang, Tian Wei and Simon Pusey: Continue reading Lippi cashes in on China’s Mission Impossible

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