The rise and rise of Chinese sport

Fresh from spending US$ 1.3 billion for the rights to China’s football super league and buying shares in English club Manchester City, Li Ruigang head of China Media Capital is eager to buy further global sport assets. There is increasing optimism across China’s sports scene and football Super League in particular as European stars like Didier Drogba and Alex Teixieira have moved to play in China and attendances have risen sharply as the league recovered from allegations of match fixing and bribery early in its existence.

At the same time Chinese firms have the money and confidence to continue investing abroad – as the purchase of recent stakes in Manchester City and Atletico Madrid demonstrate. As Chinese firms gain more international experience this can be used domestically to help in the running of a modern sport operation.

We are likely to see further investments by Chinese firms as they look to purchase overseas assets. Wanda International recently became a top level FIFA Sponsor, already a major holder of sport and entertainment assets, this move is a boost to scandal stricken FIFA, but also helps open the door for a Chinese bid to host the Football World Cup, which in turn would help generate interest in the sport across China. This neatly fits in with the government’s aim to become a “footballing powerhouse” by 2025. At the same time Wanda International is also reportedly thinking of buying the Amaury Sport Organisation which runs the Tour de France.

Within a decade we could see Chinese firms controlling multiple football clubs and sports rights across the globe as well as enjoying a thriving domestic league able to compete with the European clubs for the finest players and managers.

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