LeTV agrees to pay 100mn yuan for title sponsorship for Beijing Guoan football club

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2016, 9:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2016, 9:16pm

Chinese internet company LeTV has agreed to pay 100 million yuan (HK$118.63 million) for the title sponsorship for Beijing Guoan football team this year in a strategic partnership that marks its expansion into sports club branding from smart TV and video content services.

The football team, which is controlled by state-owned investment firm Citic Group, will be renamed “Beijing Guoan LeEco Team”, LeTV announced in Beijing Tuesday.

LeTV has recently changed its name to LeEco to demonstrate the company’s cross-platform reach.

The internet company has formed a strategic partnership with Beijing Guoan Football Club, which operates the Beijing Guoan team, but has yet to reach any agreements on a stake acquisition.

Earlier media reports said that LeTV would pay 2 billion yuan to acquire a 50 per cent stake in the football club.

Luo Ning, honorary chairman of the Beijing Guoan Football Club, said the stake purchase was still under negotiation and the shareholding structure between LeTV and the soccer club was also in discussion.

“No matter what will be the structure in the future, we have one goal in common – to develop football,” Luo said.

Set up in 1992, the Guoan team has won a number of awards including the championship of the Chinese Super League.

Lei Zhenjian, CEO of LeTV’s sports arm Le Sports, said the company had been developing a vertical industry chain for more than a year based on content and internet services, and the football club would be an important asset.

The internet company has strengthened its content by bringing world class sports events into the mainland.

Last year, it acquired a 20 per cent stake in Singapore-based World Sports Group which holds the exclusive copyright for games organised by the Asian Football Confederation. The tech company continued its expansion in sports broadcasting this year, signing a three-year deal with Major League Baseball to screen league matches in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

“For Le Sports, we have done a lot in building the industry chain, Beijing Guoan is the last piece of the puzzle,” Lei said.

He said Le Sports hoped to invest more resources into the soccer club to foster the operation and development of the football team and also dedicated to youth training in the future.

LeTV also made headlines in Hong Kong as it has snapped up the exclusive rights to show all FIFA World Cup matches in the city from 2016 to 2018, following the acquisition in September of English Premier League rights for three years from next season, which reportedly cost more than US$400 million.