Wanda's Atlectico stake will help branding in Europe
Updated: 2015-01-22 15:06
By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York(China Daily USA)
"If three to five Chinese players can manage to ply their trade successfully in top European leagues, then we are not burning money," said Wang.
Wang's goal of developing soccer stars in China to play in Europe is similar to the plans laid out by Vincent Tan, who is the owner of the Cardiff City Football Club in Wales, Anthony Evans, senior research fellow at the L. William Seidman Research Institute at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, said in an e-mail to China Daily.
After purchasing Cardiff City, Tan changed Cardiff's color from blue to red and this has upset the team's fans. He also has set up a development academy in Malaysia with the same goal as envisioned by Wang in China with Atletico of bringing talented players over to Europe.
According to Evans, immigration issues have stalled Tan's plan. "There may be an issue with work permits for the players," said Evans in an interview. "This might also turn into a challenge for the Wanda Group's ambitions as well."
Brian Soebbing, assistant professor of sports management at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said soccer is the ideal sport for a company or group to attain a global marketing and entertainment presence.
"Soccer is the gateway for a group to expand its brand and marketing into another country because it is the world's most popular sport," he told China Daily. "While there is potential for other sports to do this, soccer is right now the only sport with a sizeable global following and audience."
This won't be the first investment in Spain for Wanda Group, which counts US movie-theater chain AMC Entertainment among its holdings. Last year the company bought a 28-story building in Madrid from Spanish bank Banco Santander SA for 265 million euros.
Sun Xiaochen and Lyu Chang contributed to this report.