Chinese football added another two major clubs to the country’s portfolio, as the government-backed soccer drive shows no sign of slowing down.
With the sporting world’s attention zeroing in on the Rio Olympics, China’s football industry – as has been the case repeatedly this year – stole back the spotlight. West Brom became the first English Premier League club to be acquired by a mainland Chinese owner. Then, just hours later, AC Milan joined the club as a Chinese consortium took full ownership from Silvio Berlusconi, following the lead of its cross-town rival Inter two months ago. Here are five thoughts on the day’s dealings: Continue reading West Brom, AC Milan added to China’s trophy cabinet
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…
CCTV, IMG and Infront – all huge names in the sports industry – were among the suitors to buy the rights to produce and broadcast the Chinese Super League. But these three, and others, were obliterated by the bid submitted by the comparatively little known Tiao Power, worth a staggering 8 billion yuan over five years.
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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.
May was a busy month.