FC Bayern has once again showed its desire to sustain a competitive edge over the competition, by opening an office in mainland China. With the opening of this office, Bayern Munich has become the first foreign club to do so. The club will look to increase revenue streams by seeking new sponsorship and merchandising deals in a nation where the sport has become a national priority.
China has emerged as one of the biggest players in the global soccer economy. In recent years, efforts to become a global soccer power have increased due to huge spending. President Xi Jinping, an affirmed soccer fan, announced a 50-point plan to overhaul all levels of soccer and help revitalize the “Chinese Dream.” Which President Xi Jinping believes is to build a “moderately prosperous society in all respects, and realize China’s ascendance to military, economic, and cultural power”.
Spending is certainly not a problem, as China looks to double its GDP coming from sports (Forbes.com). China is well behind other countries in that regard, which has led to Chinese investors opening their wallets to kick start growth both nationally and internationally.
China has ambitions of hosting and even winning the World Cup, thus triggering a rush of Chinese investment in foreign clubs, players, coaches and media rights. They want to increase their number of publicly run youth football academies and Bayern has already offered to lend a hand. Bayern already has one club in the eastern city of Qingdao in Shandong province with a full staff of coaches already in place.
“The school plans to train 1,000 football teachers and 5,000 students in China this year, mainly in Shandong province, board member of the Qingdao school, Yu Hao, told AFP”.
Bayern Munich’s Chief Executive Officer Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has stated “It’s the right time to come to China”, and has expressed the idea that there will be constant interaction between the office in Shanghai and the office in Munich.
Bayern has recently stated that it has 136 million fans in China (fcbayern.com), which is surprisingly more than the entire German population. Bayern expanding globally to China makes perfect sense, but the club isn’t alone targeting the growing Asian sport market. Manchester United and Barcelona have a presence in Hong Kong creating immediate competition for Bayern Munich. This should be fun!
The club already has two major existing sponsors in Adidas AG and Audi, but is surely on the lookout for more sponsorship opportunities. Chief Executive Officer Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said “the reason for focusing on China was twofold: to create an additional audience for existing sponsors such as Adidas AG and Audi, while hunting for new local sponsors and helping the country develop its own stock of talented players”.
China’s national team has struggled and has been mediocre at best. They have not qualified for the World cup since 2006, and have trouble fielding a team that is remotely competitive. Chinese Super League teams are spending millions of dollars to import players, and Rummenigge described the spending as “completely exaggerated.” He also believes that this will not help fuel President Xi Jinping’s dream of having a successful national team.
“I personally don’t believe what they are doing is the right way,” he said. “I believe they should invest much more in talent, instead of second-class, or older stars. In the long-term, the investment in talent in the youth will be more fruitful.”
FC Bayern will visit China and Singapore in July during this year’s “Audi Summer Tour 2017”, contesting four attractive friendlies against leading European clubs:
19 July, Shanghai: FC Bayern – FC Arsenal
22 July, Shenzhen: FC Bayern – AC Milan
25 July, Singapore: FC Bayern – FC Chelsea
27 July, Singapore: FC Bayern – Inter Milan