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.
Stories started to spread on Monday that Chinese home appliance chain Suning was set to buy a stake in Spanish megaclub Barcelona. If true, it would have blown news of Alibaba buying a 50% stake in Guangzhou Evergrande out of the water.
It’s almost becoming its own feature at this point: who has Huawei sponsored this week? This year the company has signed sponsorship deals with the ITU World Triathlon Grand Finale in London, German soccer team Borussia Dortmund, NZ soccer team Wellington Phoenix, and Australian rugby league side Canberra Raiders. Then there was a China-New Zealand soccer match, the 2011 Italian Super Cup in Beijing, plus Atletico Madrid in last year’s Madrid derby, and that’s before we get on to Huawei’s recent musical tie-ups with Coldplay and, er, the Jonas Brothers.
With all the negative press that Chinese telecoms firm Huawei has been receiving in recent days – that it “spies for the Chinese government“, or that the Brits are investigating Huawei’s involvement in a cyber security base in the UK – you would think it might take more than a little gentle sports PR to turn things around.