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Opportunity and challenge: when top football clubs land in China

By Yutang Sports 17 Jul 2015

With Bayern Munich FC’s China tour of this summer debuting tomorrow night at Bird’s Nest, China-based fans of the European football giants are once again offered opportunities to watch their favorite players play without efforts to travel thousands of miles. And there are more to come, the likes of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Juventus will all be on the way in the coming days.

But it is not merely about football, it is about business as well. The question is not whether the tours would end up with promotions and incomes or with average opportunities to warm up ahead of new season, it is in what manners could the promoters make most of these events under the pressure to present top European football for the local supporters.

Well, let’s firstly take a brief look at the Real Madrid’s money-cashing tour in China in the summer of 2003 when the campaign was significantly boosted by the likes of Beckham, Ronaldo, Zidane, Figo, Raul and Carlos. On that occasion Florentino Pérez alongside his Galaxy Warship grabbed as much as 2.7M Euros within a few days. But the gala produced by luxurious squad did re-establish the situation of exhibition games in China. It is arguably fair to say the football carnival in 2003 opened a new dimension for China’s football marketplace and filled those Chinese organizers and promoters with serious confidence and experiences.

But the success of Real Madrid’s summer campaign in 2003 couldn’t be repeated until 2011 when the Italian Super Cup, or Supercoppa Italiana, was held at Bird’s Nest in Beijing. The China-based Milan Derby between Ac Milan and Inter Milan had really raised eyebrows with RMB80m of tickets sales and dramatic increased sponsorship deals. The atmosphere, media, supporters did seemingly make the match look like a so-called European one. And most importantly, the teams enriched the wallets whistle the fans enjoyed the feast.

Nevertheless, there would be challenges for organizers as well ahead of those top football clubs’ tours. One of these challenges is resulted from significantly increased payments to the clubs, which will leave pressure on organizers when pursuing financial balance. Consequently, organizers may need to explore more in order to work out a more innovative business model when implementing such exhibition matches in China where top football teams seemingly have prepared to exploit the untapped football market.

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