Interest from China in UK football has never been higher with the Chinese Super League recently making a number of outrageous bids to poach top stars in the Premiership.
Former West Ham and Manchester United forward Carlos Tevez will earn a staggering £64m over two years after he signed to Shanghai Greenland Shenhua whilst Wayne Rooney has reportedly been offered £700,000 a week to turn his back on his beloved Manchester United and head to China this summer. Chelsea defender and captain John Terry has been offered £12m after tax to move to the same team as Tevez.
Even European teams aren’t immune - agent Jorge Mendes shocked the footballing world recently when he revealed the league had bid a mind-blowing £257m for Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Aside from throwing down the gauntlet to UK football managers and causing uncertainty in the footballing world, the huge interest in Premiership clubs and players has coincided with a rise in Chinese expats snapping up property in cities which are home to the Premiership clubs they adore so much. According to CBRE, a worldwide commercial property consultancy, the Chinese now own 5% of the residential property in London’s West End.
With a population of 140 million and many cash rich buyers among them, the UK housing market is a prime target for Chinese expats who buy UK property for investment, lifestyle, family and education. This, coupled with many Chinese investment funds targeting European football clubs and the pound dropping against the yuan in wake of Brexit, makes the country increasingly attractive for wealthy football fans.
Online property site juwai.com reported a record number of Chinese searching for UK properties in September and, according to Hamptons international, the sale of upmarket London homes to Chinese buyers rose to 2.6% in the third quarter compared to 1.8% previously.
“Chinese football is huge and the Chinese love the Premiership. Some of our clients are fans and whilst the main motivations for buying are normally a second home or for educating their children, being close to certain Premiership teams when they are in the country so they can catch a game when they want is a consideration.
“And why not? If they have the capital to be able to buy property, doing so close to their favourite club is a win win for them.”
Chinese interest in football has exploded in recent years with football-mad President Xi Jinping speaking of turning China into a “football powerhouse” that will not only host the World Cup but ultimately win it. Jinping, who visited Manchester City FC on his four-day state visit in 2015 even posing for a selfie with David Cameron and Sergio Aguero, plans to invest an eye-watering $850bn over the next decade into the sport.
Chinese investors already have a foothold in the likes of Manchester City and Aston Villa as well as string of lower league clubs and Liverpool and Hull City are now being targeted. West Bromwich Albion has been taken over by Chinese company Yunyi Guokai and the Fosun Group acquired Wolverhampton Wanderers last year.
With the Premier League dubbed “the world’s No.1 game” by Chinese journalists and more than half of China’s 350 million football fans claiming to support UK teams further investment by the Chinese in both teams and property is inevitable.