China Football Business


China is not only the most populated country in the world but also the country with most football fans on the planet. With the recovery of the Chinese local football, the business potential of the football market will gradually be making its way back up in the near future.

Super Coppa Italiana (Italian Super Cup) held on August 11, 2012 in the Beijing National Stadium attracted over 70,000 fans to the game. The result way beyond anyone’s imagination. The Italians who gains 3.6 million Euro are unable to hold themselves back from signing the contract for new partnership with the host.

History of China Football Business

It’s not the first time for Italians to be so excited. The Super Coppa Italiana started hosting in China  3 years ago. The first match between Lazio and Inter has been viewed by 73 thousand audience in the stadium and the gate collection of that match exceeded 77 million Yuan, even more than that of the final of Championship!

Manutd fans in China

Super Coppa Italiana is not the first one to benefit in China market. In 1999, Manchester United visited Shanghai and played a game with the local team, the stadium reached a record breaking 60,000 fans attending the game. All the records made by Manutd was consistent for four years straight until Real Mardrid visited Beijing and made a profit of over 10 million Euro.

However, Real Mardrid ruined its reputation 2 years later. That year, Real Mardrid left people a impression of “circus from Europe”: delaying the press meeting, cancelling the interviews casually, refusing to meeting fans, conflicts with guards, even no stars in the match! Although R. Mardrid made a hefty 40 million incomes that year, it ruined its reputation not only for themselves but also for other clubs.

Low attendance at Bacelona‘s match

The angry fans took revenge in the over exploited market. When Barcelona came in 2004, even with big stars like Ronaldinho, Puyol and Deco, only 8 thousand fans came!

Today’s China Football Business

The turning point occurred in 2009, two ex-heads of a Chinese football league have been sentenced to 10 years each for corruption, making them the most highly positioned football officials charged. This case pushes the reform of Chinese football league management with stronger supervision on corruption to improve the league to attract more fans.
It’s also regarded as a Nirvana of business game. In 2011, business game goes to its climax, AC Milan, Inter, Real Mardrid, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool came to China one after another in one month to play business games.

Although the market looks promising, insiders began to worry about the change drawing near. The celebrity effect has lost its magic, now is the time of real and exciting games. No football fans will like a game without uncertainty. Those business games between an extremely strong team and a weak team have lost their values.

Chinese football fans in bar

Chinese football fans in bar

Then the Super Coppa Italiana came. Over 70 million Chinese football fans watched this game on TV, this is type of ratings are unheard of considering that’s more than the total population of Italy.

China Football Business Model

The change also takes place in the form of the profit model. Making profit by only selling tickets is no longer popular. Organizers and clubs now are making money from both sponsors and fans.

It requires club to put more effort to spreading their influence. During the “Winoly Cup”, Arsenal attended over 30 public relations activities including Gunnasaurus show, lecture, a viral video and so on in only 3 days. Their efforts paid off, the “Winoly Cup” attracted 30 sponsors and 60,000 fans to watch the game in the stadium.

Wenger lectures in Tsing Hua University

Wenger lectures in Tsing Hua University

As the CMO Asia of Arsenal introduced, “in the future, you cannot only focus on the fans around London or England, you will need to put billions of your potential fans into consideration.”