It's not a coincidence the owners of Inter Milan, Southampton and West Brom are all looking to sell: Chinese investors' European venture has reached the beginning of the end

10 February 2021

StevenZhang
Photo: PA Images China has changed strategy from a less well-defined ambition to a specific goal of growing national competitions and becoming a top FIFA nation. Inter Milan chairman Steven Zhang is one of many owners negotiating a buyout with BC Partners.

The benefits - if you are a Chinese businessman - of owning a European football club are over.

CCP, the Chinese Communist Party, has called on everyone to invest capital in building football infrastructure locally.

Investing in European football didn't turn out to boost China's domestic industry to the extent the government had hoped.

China has changed strategy from a less well-defined ambition to a specific goal of growing national competitions and becoming a top FIFA nation.

Emil Gjerding Nielson and Kasper Kronenberg nielson@offthepitch.com

You only need to go back a few days to find a fresh example.

On Friday evening, the broadcast feed for matches from Italian football's Serie A was pulled from PP Sports, the Chinese streaming platform owned by Suning Holdings. Fans hoping to watch the Fiorentina and AC Milan clash got quite a surprise when they found out that the match was not on air as scheduled.

The reason was that Chinese-owned PP Sports had failed to make a payment to agency IMG, who acquired the rights to the competition in 2017.

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