For 22 years from 1994 to 2015, a very proud thing for the professional Chinese football leagues is that they could always attract the leading capitals in the country. These included the pharmaceutical industry in the early 1990s, tobacco industry in the middle of 1990s, the manufacturing industry and real estate industry.
Chinese professional football league started in 1994. At that time, investors of the 12 clubs were from various businesses, but a majority of them were from pharmaceutical industry, which is largely because the 90s were the golden age for global pharmaceutical industry. The five years from 1991 to 1995 witnessed the fastest development of the industry in China. Average growth rate reached a high of 22%. The market volume was as high as hundreds of billions yuan.
For the first five years, the title sponsor of the C League has been Marlboro. The tobacco brand was the first to feed Chinese professional football. From 1996, many tobacco brands started to invest or sponsor teams in the league. China has nearly 30% of consumers in the global market, and tobacco played a very important role in the Chinese economy. In the 90s, taxation of the tobacco industry of Yunan Province was once 75% of its total provincial revenue. However, from 2001, being restricted by policy, tobacco started to withdraw from football.
2004 was the year when Chinese Super League was established. Over Half of the 12 clubs had manufacturers as sponsors. For example, car manufacturing (Chongqing Lifan FC, Beijing-hyundai FC), constructions (Dalian Shide FC), food manufacturing (Tianjin Kang Shifu), home appliances manufacturing. After China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001, the manufacturing industry entered 10 golden years of development.
Last season, it was real estate that controls the football league. The “real estate” football era started from 2010 when Evergrande invested in Guangzhou football team. But in recent years, the industry was affected by policy restriction, the size of “real estate” football league should be reduced.
The title sponsors of the Chinese super league in the past years include:
Marlboro (1994-1998): 1.2 million dollars per year
Pepsi Cola (1999-2002): 10 million dollars per year
Siemens (2003-2004): 6 million Euros per year
None for 2005
iPhox (2006): 8 million Euros per year (haven’t been
Kingway Beer (2007-2008) 20 million yuan per year
Pirelli (2009-2010): 22.5 million yuan per year
Wanda Group (2011-2013): 65 million yuan per year
Ping’an (2014-2017): 150 million yuan per year
Translated from an article by NetEase.