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Chinese influence on the global game growing

Monday 9 January 2017

A Chinese football club will break the world transfer record this year, predicts an expert on sport, despite the governing body announcing plans to cap spending.

Simon Chadwick, Professor of Sports Enterprise at the University of Salford Business School, and an expert in Chinese sport, says that increased competition from China is something that the Premier League and Europe’s other top leagues will have to get used to as the country aims to become a football world power.

A week after Oscar left Chelsea for £60m to join Shanghai SIPG and days after Jon Obi Mikel announced he is to move to Tianjin, also from Chelsea, Professor Chadwick says that the spending isn’t over.

He said: “China are playing a long game. The ultimate goal is for the country to generate its own players and eventually compete internationally for World Cups and club trophies. The phase they are in at the moment is to develop their domestic game and bring foreigners over to help their own players develop. I only see that continuing in the medium term, despite the Government calling for caps on spending. That order will simply moderate overall spending, rather than prevent records being broken.

“Earlier this window a Chinese club bid £250m, for Cristiano Ronaldo. I think a deal of that magnitude it likely to go through in the next twelve months. I think a Chinese club will break the world transfer record of £89m set by Manchester United for Paul Pogba this summer.

“The balance of power in world football is shifting and people are realising that. Over the last three or four weeks Conte and Wenger have said China represents a  threat to the Premier League and other European leagues. The Chinese are not just spending on players. They are spending on clubs, facilities, sponsorships deals, investing heavily right across the business.

“The end game is for the Chinese national team to be the best in the world and for the World Cup to come to China. They want to learn all about the game, how to scout, how to train how to run clubs and develop skills. Part of the investment overseas is to learn how to run football.”

But Professor Chadwick says it is not just football that is the target for Chinese investors. They are looking to develop their power in other sports and other parts of the entertainment industry. For example China’s richest man, Wang Jialin has interest in the IPL cricket league, winter sports events and broadcasting and has just purchased the company which runs the Golden Globes.

Professor Chadwick added: “He also owns the AMC cinema chain and is developing links in the NBA and has also shown a strong interest in Disney. He has ownership of sports marketing companies and a 20% stake in Athletico Madrid.

“It is the convergence of sport and entertainment. The influence of China across all sectors of entertainment and the influence of one man, Wang Jialin, in particular is huge.”

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Sam Wood

0161 295 5361