NEWS3 October 2016

China becoming sports powerhouse

Asia Pacific Leisure & Arts News Trends UK

UK – Chinese investment in football is changing the economic landscape of the sport while interest among the Chinese population in football has increased more than 4% in the past three years, according to a new report from Nielsen Sport.

Chinese football_crop

And rather than brands using sponsorship to grow brand awareness, they are instead focusing on creating and buying assets and content such as broadcast deals, agencies, players and teams.

Glenn Lovett, global president of strategy, Nielsen Sports, said: "The world is looking to China and China, increasingly, is looking to the world. Led by strategies developed at a national government level, Chinese companies and individuals are making their mark on global sport like never before.

"Football, as the world’s most popular and visible sport, has proved magnetic in its attraction: the list of clubs and agencies under Chinese control has grown substantially over the past two years, while at the same time the domestic Chinese Super League has risen in prominence, with fresh investment fuelling a number of eye-catching transfers from more established domestic leagues."

 In 2014 only one European football club was owned by the Chinese (Dutch side, Den Haag, owners Vansen International Sports Company) but by 2016 that number had grown to 13 – including some of the world’s biggest teams such as AC Milan, Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid and City Football Group, the parent company of Manchester City FC.

This has led to increased interest and fan base in the region. With 127 million fans, Real Madrid is the most followed European team in China. Inter Milan and AC Milan, both of which are majority or fully owned by Chinese firms, are the second and third most followed clubs, both with 106 million Chinese-based fans.