World Economy

China Cash Curbs to Hit European Sports Clubs

China Cash Curbs to Hit European Sports ClubsChina Cash Curbs to Hit European Sports Clubs

China’s crackdown on overseas investments is expected to herald a slowdown in splurging on European clubs and impact teams where it hurts fans the most—on the pitch.

It is unlikely that supporters in Italy, Spain and England were aware earlier this month when China’s State Council, or cabinet, moved to restrict Chinese companies from investing in foreign sports clubs, the latest salvo in a wider campaign by Beijing to curb capital outflows, AFP reported.

But fans of the dozen European clubs that are Chinese-owned or part-owned may want to pay attention, especially if they are expecting lavish spending on players before the transfer window closes in most of Europe on Thursday.

“I think it will have an impact on current ownership. Most of them will have to make continued significant investment into playing staff and all other areas of the football club in order to compete,” said Ji Zhe, director at London-based sports marketing firm Red Lantern and an expert on Chinese football.

“This impact could then have a knock-on effect to the clubs as investment dries up. Chinese owners could realign their focus and the clubs can suffer both on and off the pitch.”

Chinese football has been on a roller-coaster since President Xi Jinping declared soon after coming to power in 2012 that he wanted to make the country a football power.

Wealthy Chinese began investing in or simply buying up some of the biggest clubs in football including Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Manchester City.

A swathe of teams in the Midlands area of England fell under Chinese control: former European champions Aston Villa, Premier League side West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City.

In China, clubs that many football fans across the world had never heard of began shelling out huge amounts of money to lure the likes of Oscar, who moved from Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG for €60 million ($71.6 million).

“But the mood music has changed dramatically in the past three months,” said Ji, pointing also to how Chinese clubs were reined in during the recent domestic transfer window, which fizzled to a close last month after a 100% tax was slapped on foreign players.

“The Chinese government has put a firm brake on the football boom as it continues to tackle the outbound flow of money.”

Zhang Qing, chief executive of Beijing-based sports consulting firm Key-Solution, agrees there will be an impact on future potential purchases of clubs and existing Chinese ownership.



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