This is exactly why Beswicks Legal went to China.
Sports lawyers Gary Mellor and Tim Bailey have returned from a ten-day trip to Beijing and Shanghai to learn at first-hand more about the emerging Chinese football industry.
The nation’s footballing ambitions have been fuelled by President Xi Jinping declaring his intention to turn China into a “world football superpower” by 2050, relieving the game’s administration from central government and unveiling a 50-point plan that will ultimately lead to China not only hosting the World Cup but winning it.
The central reform group led by Xi, who has targeted improving the sports economy as a key priority has said “Revitalising soccer is a must to build China into a sports powerhouse as part of the Chinese dream. It is also what the people desire.”
The investment planned to achieve this is a staggering $850bn over the next ten years which will include 20,000 training centres, 70,000 pitches to provide for 50 million children and adults playing the game. Investors are also being encouraged to put money into building coaching academies across the country and in coach education.
President Xi sees a strong elite football presence at home and abroad as an inspiration to the population.
To date, Chinese investment in football has revolved around Europe through club acquisition and the purchase of broadcasting rights in an effort to engage the population and grow a fan culture.
The Premier League’s three-year contract with Chinese video streaming service PPTV at $700m is set to be the league’s biggest-ever overseas broadcast sale.
Leading UK clubs, WBA, Wolves, Birmingham City, Aston Villa and Manchester City are either owned or have significant Chinese investment. This number is set to grow with Chinese investors currently looking at Hull City and Southampton having already acquired leading European clubs such as Inter and AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Espanyol and Lyon.
Five of the top six global player transfers so far this year have involved Chinese clubs.
We have had the chance to see for ourselves how the football market is evolving in China and we are excited by what we have seen.
We have met people involved in making decisions at government level, Chinese Super League Club owners and major sports marketing companies, all of whom are eager to gain knowledge of the UK football industry, to be educated and, above all, to do business.
We see opportunities not just for ourselves as leading sports lawyers, but for sports IP owners, clubs, sponsors and sports educators and indeed many other businesses, as we enter into the post Brexit era.
We look forward to sharing our China experience with our clients and contacts.