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 CSL’s summer transfer window saw yet another record fee paid, as more international players arrived in China, but the league’s top scorer, Demba Ba, is looking at months on the sidelines after a bad leg break.
It is a measure of how much the pulling power of the Chinese Super League (CSL) has exploded over the past year that the summer transfer window, which closed last week, contained a handful of blockbuster deals, but was still considered quieter than expected.
China’s long-term soccer plan calls for the country to be a global force in the game by 2050, but if China’s latest football project comes off, it would arguably become a major footballing power long before that.
The plan has been laid out by the Chinese government, backed, of course, by President Xi Jinping, but the latest moves have come from one of the country’s biggest companies – Wanda, whose boss just happens to be China’s richest man.
After a breathless few weeks during which the entire sporting world has been talking about Chinese football (with yours truly quoted by AFP three times, FT twice, El Pais, Hicimos, Vice Sports and interviewed by CCTV, BBC and Al Jazeera among others), let’s take a look at a few stories that could be cropping up over the next 12 months…
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Chinese President Xi Jinping can do many things, but bringing a World Cup to China won’t be one of them.
We’ve covered Xi’s love of soccer – manufactured or otherwise – several times here on China Sports Insider, but the subject is back in the news again after his recent comments on promoting the game in China. First thoughts are the moves being made do look like sensible, long-term overhauls, rather than the short-term, quick fixes that government officials have previously initiated solely to gain attention and/or promotion (see Beckham, David).
Alain Perrin, coach of the Chinese national men’s soccer team, should make sure his squad have a busy month. When they are not preparing for friendly games against Macedonia and Mali, he should take them out to the local bars, sit them down in front of the TV, buy them a nice non-alcoholic beverage, and make them watch as many World Cup matches as possible.
Jack Ma is no idiot – he presides over a company that is set to go public at an estimated value of $152 billion dollars – but Evergrande looks to have got the better of the deal that sees Alibaba take a 50% stake in Chinese Super League club Guangzhou Evergrande for $192 million.