Weekly Wrap: Football, football, table tennis and more football

Huddersfield Town in China farce

This is just ridiculous. English football club Huddersfield Town has announced plans to “make its first foray into China as part of the Club’s wider International Development plan.”

From what I can work out from their convoluted press release, the club, who currently sit 18th in the Championship (i.e. near the bottom of English football’s second tier) are taking a delegation of businessmen to China for a week in April to explore opportunities because, you know, everyone loves football.

Commercial Director Sean Jarvis:

“Our International Development programme is underpinned by the principles of knowledge transfer and business relationships and we hope that we can use football as a vehicle for international trade.”

Hmmm, sounds like BS to me. How about International Development Manager Ajin Abraham? Let’s see what he had to say:

“We believe that the power of the Huddersfield Town brand would instantly help open doors for partner businesses. English football has an immense appetite worldwide and one would be surprised at the opportunities that we could help realise through initiatives such as these.”

The power of the Huddersfield Town brand? Yes, I’m pretty sure they will be surprised. But at least they know where China is:


AFC Champions League TV viewing figures up 53%

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) saw TV viewing figures for the Champions League rise by 53% in 2012, up to 262.4 million.

Six games drew more than 10 million viewers, with 19.2 million tuning into Guangzhou Evergrande vs. FC Tokyo, the largest audience in the Round of 16 stage.

International media would give you the impression there’s little more to Chinese soccer than Shanghai Shenhua – who did not, of course, even qualify for the AFC Champions League – but Pierre Justo, the man responsible for analyzing the Chinese data (not the easiest job, given the unreliable nature of the source) said that thanks to Guangzhou Evergrande’s success, Chinese national broadcaster CCTV saw large growth in audience numbers for the competition, with AFC Champions League games responsible for the top two most watched football matches (and four of the top ten) in China in 2012.

He then undermines himself somewhat with the following quote:

“There is no doubt that if Guangzhou had made it to the semi-final and final, the ratings would have been even higher.”

That’s true – and if China had won the World Cup, viewing figures would have been higher still.

Nanjing YOG floored by Chinese firm

Not much to say about this but it’s getting pretty desperate when major sporting events announce their “official floor supplier’ – and I thought an official paint partner was bad enough.

Hebei Tinsue Floor Technology has become the official sports floor supplier for the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games table tennis event. But, hey, Tinsue did the floors at the London Olympics so they clearly know how to lay a floor or two. At the standard reading rate of three words per second, that’s 24 seconds of your life you’ll never get back, but thanks to International Table Tennis Federation president Adham Sharara you now know that “the brand Tinsue has become synonymous with top quality sports flooring.”

And for that we can all be thankful.

Feature read:

Rowan Simons’ informative piece on what Europe can learn from China’s match-fixing troubles, as well as the possibility that China might have something to teach Europe about football governance:

China still has everything else about football to learn from Europe, including understanding the Fifa constitution.

However, if there is anything in this sorry saga for Europe to consider as it faces a scandal of much bigger proportions, it is first that corruption and bribery in sport must be taken very seriously at the highest level if anything is to be achieved.

Be prepared for the truth to reveal a disgusting web of greed that has infected parts of the game and people in the game who had previously seemed above suspicion. As China discovered, bribery starts at junior grassroots level and it reaches to the very top.

0 thoughts on “Weekly Wrap: Football, football, table tennis and more football”

  1. Hi,

    I did read your blog post with intent but do not understand where you were coming from. If you are looking to get my attention – then you’ve got mine!

    The guy from Huddersfield Town working hard to make the farce a reality.

    1. Hi Ajin,

      Many thanks for taking the time to read the blog and leave your comments. First of all, no offense intended and I wish you and the club the best of luck with your China plans.

      From my neutral standpoint, however, the venture appears wildly optimistic, and reminded me of when York City FC became York City SC (Soccer Club) in a failed attempt to “capture the US market”.

      The HTAFC brand may be well known in West Yorkshire, but I can assure you that unless you’re a Manchester United, Barcelona, AC Milan or equivalent, it won’t hold any sway over Chinese businessmen, despite the undoubtedly friendly welcome you will receive. China is littered with stories of international companies coming in, losing a ton of money, and retreating with their tails between their legs. I’m not saying that will happen to you, but there will be plenty of people here only to happy to take your money!

      That said, I hope you prove me wrong, and I look forward to hearing about the trip in April.


      1. Hi Mark,

        Thanks for responding. No offence taken. I just couldn’t fathom how you came to your conclusion that what we were embarking on is a farce and, hence, the question.

        International Development is not easy for any business. It takes a leap of faith and a lot of hard work. Huddersfield Town took this leap of faith and here we are.

        Crucial to building our brand globally was to understand where the core success factors of the Club lie and we formulated our strategy accordingly. The three pillars of Football, Business, and Community are essential to our growth and are our core areas of strength. For years, the Club has been a successful entity from a commercial and community perspective and is on the upward curve in the football side of the business. Our international development efforts are based around these core competencies – Football, Business and the Community. This would translate into International Football Development, International Business Development and International Development respectively.

        As for our venture in China, we do not expect Chinese businesses to join Huddersfield Town as corporate sponsors. Unlike the big clubs who see Asia as a good place to sell merchandise to fans/customers, we are not even looking to sell our shirts/scarves there. If somebody buys something off us, then great. But that is not the focus of our visit.

        We have a partner, Fired Up Corporation, who happen to have offices in Zhongshan. Our aim is to deliver a football development programme later this year. More details will be revealed later. This will tick the football and community side of our strategy.

        We will be taking a delegation to Zhongshan via Shanghai next month and that would cover the business side of our strategy. The intention is to help our partner businesses see the opportunities that lie in China; open their minds to international trade; and see what we plan to do in Zhongshan. Whether the businesses find future success will be ascertained later but we will try to facilitate opportunities for partners to expand. The football club helps open a lot of doors easily.

        My aim is to spread the word of Huddersfield Town and educate the world that there are more clubs in England than the ones you’ve mentioned.

        Thanks for your time.

        Best regards,

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