Weekly round-up of sports business news from the Chinese sports industry.
Second Formula E team becomes Chinese-owned
Formula E now has another Chinese-owned team, after Shanghai-based energy and tech firm Envision agreed a deal for a controlling stake in the DS Virgin Racing team, one of the founding teams of the electric car racing series. DS Virgin Racing currently sits second in the Formula E constructors’ championship, behind the Techeetah team run by Chinese sports agency SECA and investment fund China Media Capital. CMC is also a shareholder in Formula E Holdings. Separately, the Nio Formula E team is funded by the Chinese electric car brand of the same name, but is registered to race in Formula E under a British licence.
China motorsports round-up
There’s been plenty of motorsport news this week: Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, told the Associated Press that a second F1 race in China is likely, though there isn’t a timeframe yet. The reporting says a decision on the venue would be left to local Chinese partners and that Beijing is a strong candidate; Long-time Mercedes F1 sponsor Petronas signed a deal to become F1’s regional sponsor for fuel and lubricants in China, Italy and Mexico; Tencent-owned streaming service QIE Live has acquired rights for the new World Touring Car Cup series, which features two races in China; and the FIA Formula 4 Chinese Championship says two international racing teams have confirmed their attendance for the first stop of the series, which kicks off this month.
US-China trade war threatens sportswear production
The ongoing trade war between China and the US could directly impact the global sportswear industry, with German brand Puma saying it is working on plans to move some production out of China if US tariffs are imposed on footwear. Puma currently makes about a third of its products in China, but chief executive Björn Gulden said the sourcing department had been looking into alternative Asian options, despite strong demand from the Chinese consumer market.
Chinese World Cup attendance will be strong, if overstated
The Russian embassy in China says it is expecting around 100,000 Chinese fans to travel to its 11 World Cup host cities this summer, though it’s unclear how that forecast was made. Fifa’s website says about 40,000 tickets had been sold to Chinese buyers by late last month, putting China second on the list behind the US (with more than 85,000 tickets) for non-participating countries. That doesn’t include Chinese fans who will attend through hospitality packages or courtesy of sponsors (of which five are Chinese). World Cup ticket sales are still ongoing, but given many fans purchase multiple tickets, it’s hard to see how 100,000 individual Chinese fans will be in Russia this summer.
Yadea strikes Futsal deal with Sina
Chinese e-bike manufacturer Yadea – a regional supporter of the Fifa World Cup – has signed on as the title sponsor of Sina Sports’ new futsal league, which will feature competitions in 17 cities around China. Yadea and Sina also plan to launch joint World Cup-themed marketing campaigns and will host fan events in three Chinese cities during the World Cup.
Stephon Marbury signs on with Sun Seven Stars
Two-time NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury says he will head up the new sports blockchain division of the Sun Seven Stars Investment Group. Sun Sevens Stars is run by well-known Chinese TV host and philanthropist Yang Lan and her entrepreneur husband Bruno Wu. Marbury, who retired earlier this year after winning three China Basketball Association championships in a eight-year stint in China, will oversee the group’s athletic products, content and branding blockchain services, and told media he plans to “remake” the global sports sector.
Also this week
- The Chinese city of Xi’an is set to host the inaugural Fiba World Basketball Summit.
- The world’s first NBA-themed lifestyle complex opens in Tianjin.
- China will stage its first World Squash Championship as the Women’s World Team Championship heads to Dalian.
- Copa90 nets a £70m valuation after investment from Dalian Wanda’s Infront Sports.
- Liverpool FC opens an international academy in the Chinese city of Kunming
And some further reading
- From Manchester United to Messi, everyone’s playing the same money game in China – but who’s winning?
- With China set to lead the development of esports, stakeholders call for more regulation ahead of its Asian Games debut.
- China’s online poker ban could hurt the industry throughout Asia – and beyond.
The China Digest is written by Mark Dreyer, who runs the China Sports Insider website, which features sports business news and analysis related to China’s fast-growing sports industry. He has worked for Sky Sports, Fox Sports, AP Sports and many others, and has covered major sporting events on five continents, including three Olympic Games. He has been based in China since 2007.