John Yan: Chinese money’s global football reach 足球资本,逐利而行

In the same week Team China played against Australia in the quarter-final of the Asian Cup, more financial news related to Chinese international investments in football came out: three European acquisitions, as well as Guangzhou Evergrande FC’s purchase of Brazilian international players.

China is far from a hotbed of football talents or achievements, but Chinese money has been flexing its muscles on the international stage.

Team China didn’t continue its hot streak in the quarter-final of the Asian Cup, Alain Perrin’s ultra-defensive tactics didn’t help, and a 0:2 loss brought the over-hyped national team down to earth. However, the three group matches wins against Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and North Korea, helped Team China to win a seeded team position for the upcoming World Cup qualification in Asia.

Just a couple of days before the Australia match, Wanda Group, which has invested heavily in Europe in a luxury yachting business and real estate, announced it had purchased 20% of Atletico Madrid FC for €45 million. The owner of Wanda Group, Wang Jianlin, was the richest man in China in 2011, and the next two richest men of that year, Xu Jiayin, the owner of Evergrande, and Ma Yun, the owner of Alibaba, formed a 50% and 50% ownership in the current Guangzhou Evergrande FC, recently renamed as Guangzhou Evergrande & Taobao FC.

The three moguls have had a competitive relationship for years, after Wang’s investment into the defending champions of Spain’s La Liga, Guangzhou FC made a statement by spending €15 million to sign Ricardo Goulart Pereira, a Brazilian international striker. Some media put these two pieces of news together, joking that the billionaires were at war over their football toys; but the reality is they do have their reasons for investing in football.

Wang and his Wanda have huge business interest in Spain, the investment into Atletico could be considered a goodwill gesture. Xu has long been rumored to want to back away from football, but the acquisition of another Brazilian international could be a statement of sincerity (commitment) from his end.

And all because the President loves football. There is no way for any of them to back out.

At the same time, a company named Vansen, is in the final stage of acquiring the Dutch club Daan Hague, and the director of the club, Mr. Fontein, has been negotiating with Vansen for weeks in Beijing. Another Chinese manufacturing Giant, Delus, is reported by French media to be in the process of purchasing Sochaux, the second division French club.

All these international football investments are from the super-rich billionaires in China, and a hidden rule in China society is, when you are too rich, you are no longer a businessman, you become a politician.

Football in China, to a certain extent, has become a political cause.

John Yan is Deputy Editor of Netease.com. Contact him at moc.l1534319084iamg@15343190848002g1534319084naiqn1534319084ay1534319084, or on weibo at:http://weibo.com/1646270104/profile?topnav=1&wvr=5

足球资本,逐利而行

三条中国资本在海外收购足球产业的新闻,一周之内联袂登场。同一时间,广州恒大在外援引进上继续的大手笔,也引发了拉丁媒体的再度关注。中国未必是足球热土,但国际足球市场上流动的资本,已经具备了足球的中国热度。

这几条新闻,都发生在中国国家队参加亚洲杯的热门新闻期,由于中国队小组赛历史性的三场全胜,将其他足球乃至体育新闻都压了下去,只有王健林的万达,在北京高调召开新闻发布会,宣布4500万欧元收购马德里竞技俱乐部20%的股份,激起了各界不同反应。王健林依然坚持自己的高调路线,表示未来几年不考虑重回国内足球市场,这样的说辞,直接就被理解为”王老板不屑于和马云、许家印作对比……”过去几年中国大陆的三大首富,因为足球被搅在一起,不论”线上跑的”,还是”线下走路的”。

马云和许家印对半持股的广州恒大,并没有降低投入,恒大的引援水平,也从去拉美淘人才,升级为直接和欧洲俱乐部竞价收购巴西国脚,投入资金超过千万美元。这样的经济吸引力,很快在南美足球热土形成了强烈反响。在BBC的《环球足球连线》节目报道中,中国已经取代日本和韩国,成为巴西、阿根廷足球人才淘金的东亚第一选择,现金说服力甚至比西亚几个石油联赛还要强大。

于是王老板和马老板、许老板所谓”体坛斗富”,或者”有钱任性”的通俗说法,不胫而走。至少在媒体传播上,这种标题最符合大众需求。这两条大新闻和中国队亚洲杯之旅,让中国资本收购荷甲海牙俱乐部和法乙索肖的消息,没能得到太多关注。

根据荷兰媒体的介绍,海牙俱乐部董事马丁·方滕最近在北京呆了一周时间,就指望中国公司合力万盛把他们俱乐部给收了。方滕和海牙俱乐部过去一年十分窘迫,财务压力巨大,收购完成,对所有人来说都是一次极大的解脱,方滕对荷兰《电讯报》讲述道。一个很重要的阻挠因素,是荷兰国内对这种亚洲势力收购的怀疑,不过62岁的方滕表示说,他对合力万盛的负责人王辉没有任何怀疑。

在方滕的介绍里,王辉希望青训成为合作重点,因为”中国青训基础设施不够”,而且青训也是有政治目的性的,”我们和八一中学签订了合作协议,那可是习近平主席的母校。我们要培养的是完整的人,以个人天赋、身体条件和心理素质为基础。”

这些当然是新投资方带来的内容,海牙俱乐部本身,只希望新涌入的资金,能帮助俱乐部实现保级,”钱一到位,我就会围绕转会工作,冬窗即将结束,我们会在海牙开一次董事会,王也会参加,但愿我们还有时间能签下一些新球员。钱应该没问题了。”

律师王辉,和他的合力万盛,过去几年在鸟巢承办了几届意大利超级杯,早先就有传闻,说王辉和他代表的财团,有意收购英超。后来消息转变成为了收购英冠某俱乐部,谢菲尔德两者其一。如今通过出口转内销,辗转回国的,是荷兰海牙俱乐部。从过去两年国家领导人出访,习主席在荷兰谈足球、接见范德萨,荷兰和中国的足球联系紧密了很多,2014年一年,范德萨就来了中国四趟。

另一条类似消息,也由法国传回中国,那就是”一个中国制造业巨人”可能收购法乙索肖俱乐部。据传这是中国照明业巨人莱德斯(LEDUS)的手笔,最近该公司有一个代表团,专程去到索肖进行了实地考察。索肖是现中国国家队主教练佩兰曾经成功执教过的俱乐部。

中国资本和足球如此多的关联,由国内到国际,足球政治气候改变,是最重要因素。只是用”斗富”或”任性”来比喻这些投资,未必十分恰当。王健林在马德里竞技的投入,有他强调的为中国足球青训开路的作用,但更重要的,这是为近年在欧洲市场开疆拓土的万达,打通当地人脉、修补自身形象的友善之举。4500万欧元收购20%的股份,是”友情价”?马竞通过这笔收购,估值为2.55亿欧元,并不是一个便宜的离谱的价格,这样一个会员制俱乐部,能为而变更俱乐部属性,个中内情足够神奇。

恒大继续收购大牌的豪气,更是马云投入后,必然要有的行为,否则真会应验”许家印半退”的分析。

足球资本涌动,更是资本在逐利而行的整治投资。