Asian betting market experts are taking the Chinese Super League (CSL) seriously, though football in China has a long road until it becomes an attractive proposition for sports consumers.
At this month’s SBC ‘Betting on Football Conference’ (3-5 May Stamford Bridge London), the newly funded CSL was discussed as an Asian sport and commercial prospect.
Andre Rodrigues, CEO of Malta-based investment firm, Goldblue is intrigued by CSL and its costly approach to growing football in China. With CSL spending + $400 million during January’s European transfer window, Rodrigues states that all football stakeholders have to ‘take the CSL’s ambitions seriously’.
“It’s going to be a long time before we see a derby in Guangzhou compete with a Manchester derby, but we are seeing rapid growth in the money being spent, the salaries and the transfers.” Rodrigues added.
Detailing an Asian perspective, Jim Yu, founder and CEO of social gaming company, TCM Inplay underlined that China has an established appetite for football.
“International clubs go to China every summer,” he said. “Chinese sponsors pay a lot of money for teams to play in the country. For example, the Milan derby happens in the Bird’s Nest in Beijing every year, along with numerous international friendlies.”
Although CSL football standards have to improve, Yu notes that attendances and viewing have improved with new funding for the league. If China can improve its football academies and develop better footballers, CSL can become a ‘real prospect’.
Nelson Ferrigni, Owner and MD of sports agency Ogoun Consulting details to the audience the political importance of the CSL becoming a success.
For years Chinese football has been behind its Asian neighbours Japan and South Korea who have developed successful leagues and qualified for FIFA World Cups.
Ferrigni notes that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping is fully aware of the cultural importance and impact of football on the global stage. For China’s reputation, it has to be competitive at football.
“It’s also important to note that President Xi Jinping loves football. It’s something that he’s pushing. There are many soccer schools being set up. They want to win the World Cup. The next step for them is getting professional Chinese players out into Europe.”