Weekly round-up of sports business news from the Chinese sports industry.
Wigan set for Chinese takeover
League One champions Wigan Athletic are set to be controlled by Hong Kong-listed company International Entertainment Corporation. The deal, which is now subject to approval from both the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Football League, would give IEC majority stakes in the club itself, the DW Stadium and the club’s two training grounds. Chinese investment in European clubs has slowed over the past year due to a government crackdown on overseas spending, especially by companies with no previous experience in the sector. But smaller deals are less likely to face scrutiny from Beijing, which also has limited control over Chinese companies listed outside the mainland.
Chinese-owned Wolves strike Adidas deal
Newly-promoted English Premier League football club Wolverhampton Wanderers will wear Adidas jerseys for at least the next four years. Wolves’ owner Fosun has been a rare success for Chinese owners in English football this season, though Aston Villa may yet join them in the top-tier through the playoffs. Meanwhile the ladies team of Manchester City – in which Chinese fund CMC owns a 13-per-cent stake – has named Hong Kong-based QNet as its new sleeve sponsor – the first in English Women’s Super League history. The direct selling company has been a partner of City’s men’s team since 2014.
CSL first to join Twitter
The Chinese Super League has become the first domestic sports league to officially launch on Twitter. The @CSLFootball account will tweet video highlights for fans in both English and Mandarin. Given that the social media platform is not easily accessible within China, the move is a bid to expand overseas, with China Sports Media chief executive Zhao Jun saying “Twitter was a natural choice…to connect with and reach out to international fans”.
Beijing brainstorms fed by Pyeongchang lessons
Organisers of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics say they have answered close to 2,000 questions in brainstorming sessions following the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Beijing 2022 sent more than 250 employees to Korea in a variety of roles. Brainstorming workshops covering more than 100 planning, operational and technical issues were then held back in Beijing, as well as sessions looking at the experiences of athletes, spectators and media, to discuss what they witnessed at the Games and how they could start preparing for 2022. The International Olympic Committee – in the form of the Olympic Games Knowledge Management program – also provided feedback with a view to helping preparations. IOC president Thomas Bach said at an executive board meeting this month that the preparation work towards 2022 was a good example of “Chinese efficiency”.
Li Na extends hometown tournament representation
Chinese tennis star Li Na has extended her deal as a global ambassador for the Wuhan Open. The two-time Grand Slam champion first endorsed her hometown tournament in 2016 and will now continue the role until the end of the 2019. The Wuhan Open began in 2014, replacing the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Little known outside of China, Wuhan has a population of eight million people and is keen to host sporting events: in addition to the tennis, it has featured Fifa World Cup qualifiers in recent years and will be one of the venues for the 2019 Fiba World Cup.
Also this week
- Cristiano Ronaldo signs endorsement deal with Chinese car firm Wey.
- Chinese web portal Sohu seals the rights to air the World Rallycross Championship.
- Panini partners with Tencent Sports to bring the official 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia digital trading card app to China.
- Wanda’s Ironman signs its first global bike partner, while its Infront sports agency lands rights for the FIS World Championships
And some further reading
- BBC radio profiles a soccer powerhouse tucked away in the countryside in China’s World Cup Dreams.
- Why China’s gym trend goes hand-in-hand with fashion and self-promotion.
- China’s education and commercial institutes look to get involved in youth ice hockey.
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.