European soccer clubs and their stakeholders look on with mixed feelings when yet another Chinese billionnaire sets his eyes on their clubs. But from the perspective of the Chinese billionnaires it makes perfectly sense, says Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of the China Rich List Hurun to the Telegraph.
For an idea of the potential investment in China that might yet pour into European football, and in particular the English game, one need only consult the unofficial rich list of Chinese society to learn that the country now has 596 dollar billionaires, more even than the United States.
The Hurun Report, which attempts to track the rising fortunes of China’s richest men and women estimates those 596 head count of billionaires is up from a total of 20 just 10 years ago, growing over the last year at the rate of five a week. Speaking to Telegraph Sport this week, the chairman of The Hurun Report, Rupert Hoogewerf, said that the interest in European football is “huge”.
“I know at least three billionaires who are looking to buy English or Spanish football clubs,” he said. “The real size of the market is probably 10 times that.”…
All (recent purchases) have been acquired according to different business strategies with different aims in mind but, says Hoogewerf, on the basis that these are viable investments with a long-term return. President Xi Linping’s visit to the City Football Academy headquarters of Manchester City last October was the ultimate state endorsement, and Chinese investors seeking to buy clubs will find state policy in their favour.
Buying a European football club represents a relatively trouble-free way of moving money overseas and, Hoogewerf says, it also equates to value at home. The effect of the brand of a British club on the value of a company in China can be transformative. “Once you have made an acquisition [as a Chinese investor] and put that asset into a Chinese-listed company you might find that its [the club’s] value is much higher than in the UK.”
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