For European clubs active in the Chinese market there is now a greater expectation for them to contribute

13 March 2021

China Kids fotball
Photo: Alamy Young Chinese kids practice football skills during a training session at the R&F Soccer School in Meizhou city, south Chinas Guangdong province.

The Chinese government wants to lift the country’s efforts in improving its domestic football industry as it aims to move up the FIFA rankings.

There has been a shift away from encouraging investment in the European game to a call for more focus on developing the country’s own infrastructure.

As a result, the top clubs from Europe would do well to radically reassess their strategies in China, believes Rowan Simons, the founder of China ClubFootball, a grassroots football network operating in Beijing.

“There is a big gap in China that smart foreign clubs could fill by becoming true partners to the grassroots in a targeted location,” says Rowan Simons.

 “How can we make money out of China now?’ is still the wrong question to ask, even if some clubs feel they have made significant commitments in the country.

Simons advises clubs to do whatever they can to support China’s attempts to establish its own football pyramid – with the potential long-term reward being a higher level of talent they could sign and a much more loyal following.

Jonathan Dyson dyson@offthepitch.com

Ever since the Premier League’s £564 million broadcast deal with PPTV in China was terminated suddenly last year, English top-flight clubs, as well as many others from Europe, have been left wondering how it’s possible to make a profit from China.

Lucrative broadcast rights were seen as key to monetising the market, with sponsorship deals and merchandise sales so far, on the whole, not delivering enough to compensate for investments made in a market where some clubs have been active for at least five-to-ten years.

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