The Chinese Super League was the highest spending football league during the 2016 winter transfer window, but where did all the money come from?
On the 5th of February, Alex Teixeira packed up his bags and said his final goodbyes to his Shakhtar Donetsk teammates. After spending the month of January heavily linked to English side Liverpool FC, and pleading with Shakhtar to allow him his “dream move” to Anfield, Teixeira made a shock £38.4 million move to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning.
Teixeira’s transfer fee broke the Chinese transfer record. In fact, the Chinese transfer record fee was broken three times in 10 days after Ramires moved to Jiangsu Suning for £25 million and Jackson Martinez moved to Guangzhou Evergrande a few days later for £31 million.
The sudden influx of money and attention to football in China is down to President Xi Jinping’s love of the game. He introduced a programme that is set to take place in 2017, making football a compulsory component of the national curriculum in Chinese schools.
The president also stated very clearly that he would appreciate it if many of China’s top magnates invested in the Chinese Super League. Many of these magnates have complied for political and public relations reasons.
The money isn’t only coming from the top magnates looking to do business, but also from the fans. Average attendance figures are growing and the Chinese Super League is currently averaging 22,000 fans per game. By 2018, it’s predicted the Chinese Super League will only be beaten by the Premier League and Bundesliga in attendance figures.
This has led to a new US$1.3 billion TV deal with China Media Capital. This will see clubs share out a cool US$200 million between each other from broadcasters in 2016, this is a gigantic increase from the US$9 million they shared in 2015.
China has now become the most attractive league outside of Europe, overtaking MLS. Over the past decade, the MLS has seen the likes of David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Andrea Pirlo move from Europe to America. However, the emergence of China as the new ‘land of opportunity’ may lead to a sudden stagnation in development for the MLS.
In China, clubs are allowed to pay their players whatever they want, whereas, in the MLS they have a wage cap regulation and only three ‘designated players’ from each team are allowed to be paid over the limit.
The Chinese Super League will definitely be one league to watch out for in the foreseeable future and as long as President Xi Jinping is in charge, expect even more extravagant spending sprees from some of China’s biggest teams.
Images from: Yahoo Sport