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作者: 来源: 日期:2016/8/30 9:03:56

China’s $2bn football buying spree has fans fearful of final score





An obscure Chinese investor buys an unfashionable Premier League football club and promises to transform their prospects, making them big in China by signing leading Chinese players and sealing lucrative sponsorship deals thanks to his guanxi, or connections.

一位名不见经传的中国投资者买下一家不温不火的英超(Premier League)足球俱乐部,并承诺改变球队的前景:通过他的关系签约中国顶尖球员并敲定价值可观的赞助协议,从而使之在中国家喻户晓。广州投资翻译公司。


But the reign at Birmingham City FC of Carson Yeung, a former hair salon owner who became the first Chinese proprietor of an English top-flight team in 2009, ended in ignominy. The team was relegated to the second tier of English football, Yeung was jailed in Hong Kong for money laundering in 2014 and the club remains barely known in China.

2009年,前美发沙龙老板杨家诚(Carson Yeung)买下伯明翰城足球俱乐部(Birmingham City FC),成为首个拥有一支英超球队的中国人。然而,他的入主却以耻辱告终。这支球队降级为英冠球队,2014年杨家诚因洗钱在香港被判入狱,该俱乐部在中国仍然鲜为人知。


The Chinese tycoons who have invested more than $2bn in European football clubs since the start of last year — and the fans who support these teams — are hoping that this time is different.



Keen to fulfil President Xi Jinping’s ambition to turn China into a football powerhouse, and supported by ready financing for acquisitions of overseas assets, Chinese entrepreneurs have embarked on an unprecedented buying spree of foreign teams.



[China is] the largest consumer market in the world and they are looking to leverage brands from Europe and bring home the associated expertise in running football clubs,” says Steve Horowitz, a partner at Inner Circle Sports, a US-based boutique advisory firm that has worked on a number of European football deals.

“(中国是)全世界最大的消费者市场,他们正寻求利用这些来自欧洲的品牌,并把经营足球俱乐部的相关专业知识带回国内,”美国专业咨询公司Inner Circle Sports的合伙人史蒂夫•霍罗威茨(Steve Horowitz)称。该公司参与了多笔欧洲足球交易。


Chinese groups have invested in or acquired famous clubs including Italy’s AC Milan and Inter Milan and England’s Manchester City and Aston Villa, as well as a string of lesser teams across Europe. Many more clubs, including Liverpool and Hull City, are being eyed by Chinese investors.

中国集团投资或者收购的著名俱乐部包括,意大利的AC米兰(AC Milan)和国际米兰(Inter Milan)、英格兰的曼城(Manchester City)和阿斯顿维拉(Aston Villa)、还有欧洲一系列不那么重要的球队。中国投资者还在考虑收购利物浦(Liverpool)和赫尔城(Hull City)等很多俱乐部。


Some of the buyers are politically well-connected, financially well-endowed groups such as Dalian Wanda, Fosun International and China Media Capital.

其中一些买家与政府关系密切且资金充沛,比如大连万达(Dalian Wanda)、复星国际(Fosun International)以及华人文化产业投资基金(China Media Capital)广州投资翻译公司。


Others are little-known even in China, including Aston Villa’s new owner Tony Xia, who runs a lossmaking producer of food additives, and Lai Guochuan, who acquired West Bromwich Albion this month for £150m-£200m and previously built a company he described as “the IBM of landscape gardening”.

其他买家甚至在中国都鲜为人知,其中包括阿斯顿维拉的新老板夏建统(经营着一家处于亏损状态的食品添加剂生产厂)以及本月以1.5亿至2亿英镑收购了西布罗姆维奇(West Bromwich Albion)的赖国传(此前创立了一家被他形容为“园林景观业中的IBM”的公司)。


With the Premier League in England and other top leagues more competitive than ever, fans and football executives are questioning whether these newly arrived Chinese owners have the personal and financial commitment needed to fight for long-term success, or whether Mr Xi’s Chinese football dream will turn into a nightmare in Europe.



Investment bankers say there is a big difference between the “first division” acquirers such as Wanda and Fosun, which have deep pockets and a broader plan to develop their sports and media businesses, and the “second division” of investors, who offer fewer synergies and whose finances are hard to trace.



The top tier of Chinese investors see an opportunity to build integrated sports businesses that can sate the hunger for entertainment in the world’s second-biggest economy, in addition to satisfying the whims of Mr Xi.



Last year Wanda bought a 20 per cent stake in Spain’s Atlético Madrid for $52m and acquired Swiss sports rights agency Infront Media, in addition to continuing investments in the film and theme park industries.

去年,万达以5200万美元收购了西班牙马德里竞技(Atlético Madrid) 20%的股份,并收购了瑞士体育赛事版权机构盈方体育传媒集团(Infront Sports & Media),另外还继续投资电影和主题公园产业。


China Media Capital, which bought a 13 per cent stake for $400m in the parent company of Manchester City last year after a visit to the club by Mr Xi himself, has also acquired the broadcast rights to the Chinese Super League and launched a film-making joint venture with Warner Brothers, on top of its other media businesses.

在习近平亲自参观曼城俱乐部后,华人文化产业投资基金去年以4亿美元收购了该俱乐部的母公司13%的股份,还收购了中超联赛(Chinese Super League)的转播权,与华纳兄弟(Warner Brothers)共同创办了一家电影制作合资公司,此外该基金还有其他一些媒体业务。广州投资翻译公司。


Everbright, which has approached Liverpool about a possible investment, previously acquired joint control of MP & Silva, another sports rights group.

中国光大集团(Everbright)已就可能的入股事宜与利物浦队进行了接触,此前光大与另外一家公司联手收购了另一家体育版权集团MP & Silva的多数股份。


But Alexander Jarvis, whose company Blackbridge has advised on several football deals involving Chinese investors, says that many smaller Chinese companies appear to be acting on impulse even though they “have no experience of football”.

但是,亚历山大•贾维斯(Alexander Jarvis)称,很多中国较小企业“对足球毫无经验”,似乎是一时冲动。贾维斯的公司Blackbridge为多笔涉及中国投资者的足球交易提供了咨询。


Some football types will sell their granny to do a deal,” he says. “So there’s a risk of the clubs and the Chinese investors getting duped.”

“一些从事足球交易的人为了达成交易不择手段,”他称,“因此俱乐部和中国投资者有上当的风险。” 广州投资翻译公司。


An adviser who worked on the sale of West Bromwich Albion says that roughly a dozen Chinese investors looked at the club but only four had the financial capability and a good rationale to proceed with the deal.


It’s very difficult to assess the quality of potential buyers unless you have hands and feet on the ground in China,” he says.



Feng Tao, chief executive of Shankai, a Chinese sports marketing company, says that some entrepreneurs believe they can make quick profits by buying underperforming European clubs with a large fan base and turning them round, eventually capitalising on a higher valuation by injecting them into Chinese listed companies.



But the new Chinese owners of second-tier English clubs Aston Villa, Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers will not find it easy to secure promotion to the money-rich Premier League.

但英冠球队阿斯顿维拉、伯明翰城和狼队(Wolverhampton Wanderers)的中国新东家会发现,使这些球队升为资金充裕的英超球队没那么容易。广州投资翻译公司。


Mr Jarvis says that these backers will need to invest significantly in players and coaches, while managing the expectations of the fans and trying to boost income and cover their financing costs. It is, he says, an exercise akin to “a monkey dancing on a razor blade”.



Keith Wyness, the recently installed chief executive of Aston Villa, admits that getting into the Premier League is “without doubt one of the hardest football challenges”.

最近出任阿斯顿维拉首席执行官的基思•韦尼斯(Keith Wyness)称,进入英超联赛“无疑是足球领域最困难的挑战之一”。


He adds that Mr Xia “fully understands this” although the owner has been somewhat more quixotic in his public statements, telling the club website that “my long-term aim is to make Aston Villa the greatest club in the world”.



Like others representing the new wave of Chinese football tycoons, Mr Wyness argues that Aston Villa can use Mr Xia’s connections to gain access to the best emerging Chinese players and tap commercial opportunities in China, saying that “being on the inside gives us a big advantage”.



But Mark Dreyer, an industry expert who runs a blog called China Sports Insider, says “the idea that clubs will be big in China just because they have a Chinese owner is nonsense”.

但是,运作一家名为China Sports Insider的博客的行业专家马克•德雷尔(Mark Dreyer)称,“认为俱乐部可以仅仅凭借有个中国老板就在中国走红起来的想法是天方夜谭”。


Every club across the big leagues is trying to appeal to the Chinese audience through TV, social media and pre-season tours,” he says. “Some of these purchases are going to end in tears.”



Additional reporting by Arash Massoudi in London and Chuck Pang in Hong Kong

阿尔什•马苏迪(Arash Massoudi)伦敦、Chuck Pang香港补充报道