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European clubs betting big on Chinese football

Chinese football, European clubs

There is a trend across the country as urbanisation spawns twin desires for leisure and entertainment. Beneficiaries include Europe's biggest teams, such as Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid, all of which have gained huge followings in China and Asia more broadly in the past decade.

随着中国城镇化进程的推进,人们对休闲和娱乐的需求也随之增加。这一趋势的受益者包括欧洲诸多强队,比如利物浦、曼联、巴塞罗那和皇家马德里,近十年来,这些球队在中国乃至整个亚洲吸引了大批球迷。

"All the top European clubs have huge dollar signs in their eyes when they look at China," says Cameron Wilson, founder of Wild East Football, an English language Chinese football blog. "People have been really going bold on Chinese football so that when it finally does explode, they will be in a position to capitalise."

英文的中国足球博客网站"狂热东方足球"创始人卡梅隆·威尔逊表示:"当欧洲所有顶级足球俱乐部将目光转向中国时,他们的眼睛里闪烁着巨大的美元符号。人们对中国足球真的一直抱有大胆的想法,因此当这个市场最终爆发时,他们已经做好了从中获利的准备。"

While ticket sales and advertising have been slower to take off, merchandising is in evidence in everything from a Manchester United themed bar in Shanghai to a thriving online trade in David Beckham products (including life-sized dolls).

虽然中国足球产业的门票收入及广告销售一直增长缓慢,但已经出现了各式各样的相关生意,比如上海的曼联主题酒吧,以及互联网上销售火爆的大卫·贝克汉姆相关产品(包括真人大小的玩偶)。

Wealthier buyers are putting their money into the real thing, placing dizzying bets on the success of the sport in China. Among the most eye-catching was January's move by Wang Jianlin, China's richest man, to invest $52m buying a stake in Atletico Madrid, Spanish league winners in 2014.

而较为富裕的中国买家则切切实实地做出了投资,本着对足球运动将会在中国获得成功的信心,他们完成了一桩又一桩令人目眩的收购。其中最夺人眼球的是今年1月中国首富王健林投资5200万美元,收购了2014赛季西甲联赛冠军马德里竞技的股份。

Last week a Chinese consortium including China Media Capital dutifully bought a 13 per cent stake in Man City's parent company for $400m.

上周,一个包括华人文化产业投资基金(CMC)在内的中国财团斥资4亿美元,收购了曼城母公司13%的股份。

Li Ruigang, the billionaire head of CMC, also recently gave the domestic game a vote of confidence when he outbid state network CCTV to pay Rmb8bn for the television rights to China's super league for the next five years. This was a hefty premium on previous years, when the going rate was about Rmb50m a year.

CMC负责人、亿万富翁黎瑞刚最近还对中国足球投出了一张信任票,他以80亿元人民币的报价打败了官媒中央电视台,买下了中超联赛未来五年的电视转播权。这个数字比此前的转播费高出了许多,之前的行情约为一年5000万元人民币。

Peter Schloss, chief executive at CastleHill Partners, a Beijing-based sports and media agency, says the Chinese leadership's backing is key. "Xi Jinping is an avid soccer fan and so people are following his lead. It's typical. When the government gets behind a certain sector, a lot of people pile into that sector, and the first ones in usually do make money."

北京一家体育媒体公司CastleHill Partners的首席执行官彼得·施洛斯表示,中国领导层的支持是关键。"习近平酷爱足球,因此群众也追随着他的喜好。这很典型。当政府部门对某个领域予以支持后,许多人就扎堆到这一领域,而第一批赶来的人往往能赚到钱。"

The deals have not been limited to foreign clubs. Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba, the ecommerce group, last year took a 50 per cent stake in Guangzhou Evergrande, the best team in China that recently won the Asia Cup for the second time in three years.

中国收购者的目光已不再局限于外国俱乐部。电商集团阿里巴巴董事长马云去年收购了中国最好的球队广州恒大50%的股份,这支球队最近刚赢得了亚杯,这是他们在三年里第二度捧起这座奖杯。

The other compelling reason behind the push into football is that China is among the world's most underpenetrated sports markets. Total revenues from ticketing, merchandise and advertising were estimated at $3.4bn this year, compared with $63.6bn in the US, according to consultancy PwC.

这股足球产业投资热背后还有另一个不可抗拒的理由,中国是全世界发展空间最大的体育市场之一。据咨询公司普华永道的数据,中国今年的体育门票、商品和广告总收入估计为34亿美元,而美国是636亿美元。

But with the Chinese market among the world's third-fastest growing, European clubs are anxious to spread their brands into the country through partnership programmes, exhibition matches, merchandise sales and Mandarin language websites.

但随着中国体育市场成为全球增速第三的市场,欧洲俱乐部都急于将自己的品牌传播到中国,它们的途径包括展开合作伙伴计划、举行表演赛、销售商品以及建立俱乐部的中文网站。

Punters also bet big on Chinese super league matches, which have continued to grow in popularity in spite of being tarnished by a series of match-fixing scandals.

赌球者也对中超联赛产生了极大兴趣,这项赛事越来越受到欢迎,尽管其声誉受到一系列假球丑闻的影响。

Yet another vital hurdle remains to Chinese football success — its players are just not good enough to compete in the world's top leagues.

中国仍在努力整顿足坛,但中国足球要想获得成功,还要跨越另一道重要障碍——中国球员的水平还不足以在世界顶级联赛中竞技。

"There is nobody Chinese playing at a major club in Europe," notes Mr Wilson. "That is surprising considering how desperate European clubs are to sign a really good Chinese player — that would be a great way to make themselves popular in China. "

威尔逊称:"没有一名中国籍球员在欧洲主流俱乐部效力。这一点非常令人惊讶,因为欧洲豪门十分迫切地想要签下一名真正优秀的中国球员,这将是它们在中国推广自己的一种非常有效的方式。"

A superstar player would be transformative, say analysts who point to the effect Shanghai-born Yao Ming had on Chinese basketball. The former Houston Rockets player, who retired in 2011, almost single-handedly popularised basketball as a national sport in China.

有分析人士表示,一名足球巨星将带来变革式效应,犹如上海出生的姚明给中国篮球带来的影响。姚明曾效力于休斯敦火箭队,2011年退役,他几乎凭借一己之力将篮球运动推广成中国的一项全民运动。

2016-06-23

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