The 2.Bundesliga club SpVgg Greuther Fürth are looking for a Chinese club to act as a mutual partner to grow together and share best practice and expertise.
Oliver Gilhaus, Head of Internationalization & Digitalization, spoke about Greuther Fürth's vision and thoughts with Yutang Sports at the World Football Forum (China 2017) in Changsha, China.
Greuther Fürth founded in 1903, is now 114 years old and have won three Bundesliga titles. Gilhaus says the club’s strength is the fact that it has a great history and a strong educational training academy, with a good reputation having produced many football stars.
The club is looking for a partner, a Chinese club, to work together.
“We would like to find a partner, a club who has the same idea of playing football with young people as we do. We would like to train those young people, to pass on our expertise in the education and training of these young people, of training scouts, training coaches and others.
The focus of the club is very much on young players and young talent. Right now they have four players in the national team and the youth national team. Their training philosophy is that every young talent is individually looked after in a systematic way, which means eliminating any possible weakness and expanding existing strengths and so individual support is guaranteed.
Greuther Fürth are currently ranked 8th in the Bundesliga 2nd division and played in the 1.Bundesliga as recently as 2012. Gilhaus said a China League 2 team who is working towards promotion to the Chinese Super League would seem to be a suitable match, although they would not dismiss any discussions with any other clubs.
“We need to have a partner who has the same philosophy of football as Greuther where we can combine our knowledge and expertise with a partner and an investor in the background.”
However, the presence of other overseas football clubs in the Chinese football market is not a deterrent to Greuther. Major world leading clubs have already turned their attention to China such as Bayern Munich FC who recently opened an office in Shanghai.
What are the strengths and benefits of Greuther Fürth in competing with other overseas clubs in China?
Gilhaus emphasized that they do not place themselves in a brand competition. “We do not position ourselves in a competition with other clubs who are currently here. You have to differentiate between brand and expertise. The competition is very big. That is the reason why we are not in competition with these clubs who are coming here with a brand.”
“As you can see from our experience and our history, we do have a reputation and that is our asset. It would be a good match for China and Germany to learn from each other, from each others experience; we would bring in our expertise and the reputation we have.”
In terms of how such a partnership would benefit both sides, the idea is that the partnership would exchange football and training expertise and transfer players between the two sides allowing each other to be better prepared for the future in the soccer industry. To let everybody and both parties grow is the backbone of this initiative.
Maybe the strategy of Greuther Fürth is right. As the world of football grows more competitively and there is more involvement from Chinese football clubs and Chinese investment, we can envisage not only collaboration opportunities with first tier clubs with immense financial support, but also partnership opportunities with lower league clubs. Only time will tell.
Proofread by Raymond Fitzpatrick