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Why do wealthy Chinese investors go after overseas soccer clubs?

2016-September-5       Source: People's Daily Online

Since 2014, Chinese investors have made moves on 15 overseas soccer clubs, with a total investment exceeding 7 billion yuan.

(Photo/Lanxiong Sports)

Since 2014, Chinese investors have made moves on 15 overseas soccer clubs, with a total investment exceeding 7 billion yuan. The most recent manifestation of this phenomenon is a Chinese investor eying Liverpool, triggering concerns over the motives behind these investors.

As of August 2016, money from Chinese investors has been injected into eight overseas soccer clubs. This June, retail giant Suning agreed to buy a nearly 70 percent controlling stake of Serie A side Inter Milan, while AC Milan was nearly acquired by a group of Chinese investors led by the state-owned Development & Investment Corp. for 740 million euros in August.

In 2015, China's biggest property conglomerate, Dalian Wanda Group Co., bought 20 percent of Spanish soccer champions Atletico Madrid for 44.98 million euros.

China Everbright, a financial services conglomerate, is said to have valued the Premier League’s Liverpool Football Club at £700 million, and a preliminary offer has already been tabled, Daily Mail quoted a club insider as saying.

While some noted that investments in soccer clubs often don't yield profits, as many clubs are heavily in debt, China Economic Weekly said Chinese businesses’ "bargain-hunting," especially during the economic downturn, demonstrates the companies’ desire to go global, since soccer is one of the best global advertisements one can get. Another benefit of such heavy investments is that they can boost the domestic sporting industry, noted the same report.

“China’s blueprint for soccer reform and the development of the sporting industry estimates a total value for the industry of over 3 trillion yuan by 2020, with the number of people employed in the industry exceeding 6 million … Chinese businessmen are increasingly focused on national policies, and hence make adjustments accordingly,” an anonymous industry insider was quoted as saying.

Editor: Monica Liu

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