John Yan: From Three Stripes to Swoosh 装备赞助,中国足球冲出亚洲

The public attention for Team China’s trip to Australia this January has been very high, even though the topics mostly are not related to the potential achievements of this team in 2015 Asian Cup. Alain Perrin, the French head coach of Team China, selected a reasonably young team, with an average age of 24.5 years old, and laid off quite a few settled international players. However, the stories were all about other issues, like a funny Now We Start departure ceremony held on the sports channel of CCTV, and more interestingly, the change of kit sponsor.

From Adidas to Nike – this is a big news story in the sports industry in China. It is strange why Adidas would abandon Team China after more than 30 years of cooperation. Some Adidas employees have even told me that as early as in the 1950s, Adidas had already started to provide the national team of China boots and kits, even if at that time there were no formal contracts.

The Chinese national team would definitely be another market breakthrough for Nike, the American Sport brand. Five years ago, Nike landed a big deal with the China Super League, becoming the official kit sponsor for all clubs in the top division; now they have defeated Adidas again on national team’s level. The length of this Nike deal is reported to be 12 years, ending in 2026, and the total value is rumored to be 1 billion RMB. Which is not that much higher than Adidas’ former contract.

Public feedback has been quite positive for this change, since Team China’s FIFA ranking has been closer to the lower end than the top. Before the first group match of this Asian Cup on January 10 against Saudi Arabia, China is ranked as the 97th best team in the world according to FIFA. Of course, this is the rank of the full male international team. The women’s national team is a bit better, having qualified for Women’s World Cup in 2015 summer in Canada.

Fans translated the Nike deal into Euros, and found out that for each year, the deal is worth about €11.5 million Euros, which if correct, means China would have a better kit sponsorship deal than Argentina, Netherlands and Portugal – which would be hard to believe. At least in Asia, this would be the most expensive sponsorship deal at national level.

The reasons behind Adidas withdraw include the fact that nobody wants to buy and wear a Team China jersey, therefore, businesswise, the cost is too high. After the 2002 World Cup, football in China has been a disaster, only recovered to a lukewarm extent in the past two years. An insider from Adidas China told me that a couple of years ago, the biggest order for Team China jersey was not even from China, but from the UK, as a PR company wanted to do some events in London, and urgently needed several hundred of jerseys.

But from Nike’s perspective, a sponsorship deal with Team China is not just a business deal, largely speaking, it is an investment into the future, and would enhance the brand awareness of Nike Football. They have been planning carefully in China’s football market, and did not get this deal very cheaply in comparison to the CSL sponsorship. This would be their second breakthrough in this football-sleeping nation. Invest at the low time, even though the figures appear to be quite astonishing. In Nike’s evaluation, this is still a cost-effective move.

China is leading Asia now, not on the pitch, but on their shirts. In the first match against Saudi Arabia, Perrin and his players will be wearing swoosh-dotted shirts – hopefully, their performance will deserve this new ranking.

John Yan is Deputy Editor of Netease.com. Contact him at moc.l1524152444iamg@15241524448002g1524152444naiqn1524152444ay1524152444, or on weibo at:http://weibo.com/1646270104/profile?topnav=1&wvr=5

装备赞助,中国足球冲出亚洲

南半球的阳光下,中国国家队开始了一次奇怪的亚洲杯之旅——正式比赛开始前,预热新闻和竞技内容都没什么关系。第一场小组赛,将于1月10日开始,对手是沙特阿拉伯,在这之前,围绕球队的消息,也就是主教练法国人佩兰淘汰了一批征战经年的国脚,此外带有时尚范儿在央视的出征走秀,是国家队的集体亮相。更大的新闻,则是亚洲杯开战前,中国队更换了装备赞助商:与中国国家队渊源超过半个世纪的阿迪达斯退出,耐克成为新的装备赞助商。

由此下至各种草根足球和青少年培训,中间包括中超联赛,上至代表国家足球的”中国之队”,耐克在中国足球这片十分特殊的市场领域内,实现了大范围资源统合。合同年限很长,12年,大致金额,官方自然不会透露,不过各种渠道反应,大概是12年总价值10亿人民币,其中包含装备提供。已经有好事者进行了折算,认为耐克对”中国之队”的赞助,每年约合1150万元,可以进入世界前十。如果这一系列数据基本属实,那么”中国之队”的装备赞助收入,可能超过阿根廷、荷兰和葡萄牙这样的世界强队。在亚洲地区,这样的赞助金额,也能力压日韩。

而竞技成绩上,中国国家队徘徊在FIFA排名九十名到百名左右,成年女足成绩也一直在下滑,其他国字号系列梯队,同样不具备国际竞争力,甚至国际大赛的参与资格都难以获取。耐克和阿迪达斯的争夺,看好的当然是中国足球未来的市场。在阿迪达斯犹豫不决中,耐克出手抢走这一块资源,哪怕在短期看来,对耐克的生意尤其是销售收入,并不能起到多大及时帮助。

事实上,这样的装备赞助合同,就收入论,未必比阿迪达斯对”中国之队”赞助高出太多。坊间有传闻说此前阿迪达斯给”中国之队”的赞助,装备加现金,年价值也在七千万人民币左右。阿迪达斯和中国足协的合作时间很长,改革开放之后,这一片运动领域经营放开,阿迪达斯就是”中国之队”的装备赞助商,按照该公司内部说法,五十年代,阿迪达斯就给中国国家队提供过专业装备,”只是当时没有具体的合同赞助一说”。

阿迪达斯续约的犹豫,未必不能理解,因为”中国之队”成绩的惨淡。从生意的角度看,这样的赞助不会给销售带来多少促进,”因为没有多少人会买中国国家队的球衣,哪怕有,体量也太小,不会对经销商产生多少激励作用。”最离谱的说法,是此前有一年,中国国家队球衣订购最大的需求,居然来自英国。过去十多年,有过的争穿国家队球衣热潮,只有一次,也就是2004年在北京进行的亚洲杯决赛,当时中国对垒日本,决赛之前,刘建宏和张斌在中央台直播节目中,号召球迷穿着中国国家队队服看球。只是那一场决赛最终日本夺冠,国家队球衣在球迷当中的影响力,始终没能得到更多传播机会。

耐克接手”中国之队”,显然不指望从球衣销售上套现多少商业利益,在囊括中超所有俱乐部的球衣装备权益之后,再收获”中国之队”权益,让耐克足球在中国市场的布局十分完整。虽然国家队球衣从来都卖不动,但是不论耐克还是阿迪达斯,以及有足球基因的国际运动品牌例如彪马,近几年足球相关产品的销售,呈现出强劲的上升势头,这和足球运动整体在中国升温直接相关。国家队球衣和相关产品,虽然还没有太多生意前景,可市场份额的占有,对未来发展潜力的期待,应该是耐克做出这个战略决定的理由。

很大程度上,这样一次装备变更,也是中国足协对亚洲杯的”冲喜”之举。此前中国国家队的热身训练,包括莫名其妙地跑到湖南郴州去打热身赛,遭致了各界的批评。过去6年的中国国家队,已经变成了”中国国家流浪者队”,6年时间54场公开售票比赛,这支国家队居然出现在全国20多个省自治区直辖市的26个城市,尤以二三线城市为主,因为一线城市对承办国家队比赛已经毫无兴趣,生怕血本无归。亚洲杯成绩如何不说,依赖这样大的市场,同时政策性引导下,足球和整个体育产业前景的看好,国家队的经营方中国足协旗下福特宝公司,终于从市场上找到了一份大合同。

装备赞助变更,和亚洲杯竞技成绩无关,哪怕装备上,中国足球早就冲出了亚洲。

John Yan is Deputy Editor of Netease.com. Contact him at moc.l1524152444iamg@15241524448002g1524152444naiqn1524152444ay1524152444, or on weibo at:http://weibo.com/1646270104/profile?topnav=1&wvr=5