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This week AC Milan was the latest European football club to announce it was being acquired by a Chinese consortium of private and public funds.
So why is China investing in European soccer?
Firstly, President Xi Jinping is a dedicated football fan with huge aspirations for China’s national team. Secondly, many European clubs are in desperate need of massive capital injections and China can offer much needed development funds for ailing clubs to change their fortunes. Investing in European football clubs gives Chinese companies a highly visible commercial presence in Europe from which to launch or consolidate their commercial operations. This foreign investment could also facilitate player exchanges between China and Europe. Such an exchange would have a dual effect of bolstering the Chinese national standard with an influx of renown footballers, as well as exposing Europe to Chinese footballers, potentially increasing the Chinese fan base for European clubs, and also creating a demand for wider broadcasting rights.
Corporate investment in sporting clubs has not only been a lifeline for sport in our community, but it has also been a successful springboard for business. Australian companies and sporting associations are well positioned to avail themselves of the vast opportunities on offer in China.