Champions' play targets foreign tie

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 January, 1999, 12:00am


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The mainland's most famous soccer team is looking for a foreign buyer - preferably one of the 20 British clubs listed on the London stock market - for less than 30 million yuan (about HK$27.9 million).

Liaoning has won the national championship for 10 years running.

The team, a shareholding company, has registered capital of 30 million yuan and assets of 53 million yuan. Last season it won promotion to first division this year, playing at a 30,000-seat stadium in Fushun, an industrial city 50 kilometres from Shenyang, the provincial capital.

Wang Shiyu, managing director of China M&A Management and financial adviser to the team, said: 'We have had a professional league for five years but the teams are still run as clubs and not as businesses and lose money.

'We will change that by running Liaoning as a business.' He plans to do this by following the European example and increasing revenue from merchandising and television rights, which account for 45 per cent and 15 per cent respectively of club income on the continent, against about 5 per cent for mainland clubs.

Until the end of last year, clubs received no payment from television stations for broadcasts. This year they must pay.

Mr Wang envisages additional capital from a foreign club rather than a buyout of the club's six shareholders.

By so doing, the buyer would gain access to the giant mainland market, with possibilities such as selling its games and merchandise to the Liaoning supporters who would become part of its club.

'We prefer a British team listed or preparing to list because it has access to the London market and can raise financing easily. The London market works better than those in Italy, where clubs have also listed. British teams have better management than those in Italy, Spain and France,' Mr Wang said.