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 most important Russian to China right now is not Vladimir Putin, but it’s a man who knows him very well: Alexander Zhukov. That’s because he has just been appointed head of the evaluation commission for the 2022 Winter Games. In other words, he is leading the team that will select the host city.
Maybe things will be different next summer, but pre-season tours of China by European soccer teams appear to be a thing of the past. This week’s Sports Talk column, posted below, explains why, though when English Premier League teams are touring Costa Rica but not China, it’s obvious the business model here is broken. It would be interesting to see how many fans would turn up if a – gasp! – regular season EPL game was played in China; if the NFL, with its far shorter season, can do it, then why can’t the EPL? I suspect it would be a full house, but ticket prices might be an issue, as I discuss below.