Sponsors spend big on Chinese Super League

China's reinvigorated soccer league has pulled in more than 300 million yuan in sponsorship deals for this season, almost double the amount it attracted last year.

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 February, 2014, 10:48am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 12:04pm

The Chinese Super League has pulled in more than 300 million yuan (HK$380 million) in sponsorship deals this season after Guangzhou Evergrande won the Asian Champions League last year.

The Chinese Super League signed three sponsorship deals in the past week worth far more than the expected 40 million yuan, state media reported. China Ping An Insurance was announced as the new title sponsor until 2018 in a deal reportedly worth a total of 600 million yuan, or 150 million yuan a year, according to the Chongqing Evening News. Previous sponsor Wanda paid less than half that amount, 65 million yuan, between 2011 and last year.

“As the league becomes more compelling, more fans are paying attention to it, creating unprecedented opportunities for commercial exploitation,” CSL chairman Yu Hongchen was quoted as saying in a press release issued last week by IMG Worldwide, the league’s strategic partner. “We successfully secured sponsors in Carlsberg,, Samsung and China Auto Rental.”

After Guangzhou Evergrande became the first Chinese team to win the Asian Football Confederation Champions League in November, five large corporations competed for the naming rights to the Chinese Super League, including Changan Ford Mazda, Volkswagen and Coship Electronics.

Despite losing out on the title sponsorship, the latter became an official supplier in a one-season deal worth 30 million yuan. With several other one-season sponsorship deals worth more than 20 million each and drink sponsorship worth 40 million, the league will have an operating income of 300 million this season, the first time it has exceeded 170 million yuan.

Last season, Harbin Brewery paid just 4 million yuan to become an official supplier, but if the beer brand wants renew its contract, it will have to fork out at least 20 million this time round.

The Chinese Super League is the top football league on the mainland, but gambling, match-fixing and corruption hurt its credibility in the past. After a government clean-up and heavy investment in foreign players, it has become an attractive proposition to sponsors and a favoured destination for South Korean and Australian footballers. The league pays wages four times higher than the Korean K-League Classic and recently lured over Ha Dae-sung and Park Jong-woo, both of whom play in the South Korean national team.

Most of the league’s profit will be distributed among its 16 clubs. Each can expect to receive 10 million yuan, nearly three times the amount given out in 2012.

Only the English Premier League and France’s Ligue 1 spent more than the Chinese Super League during the winter transfer window but the increased expenditure has done little so far to improve the national team, which still struggles against much smaller opposition.