China's Synergies with European Football

August 2021

This report analyses the evolving synergies between Chinese and European football across key areas including sponsorship and fan engagement strategies.

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Key Findings

CSL a top performer in APAC football yet uncertainty lies ahead

In Euromonitor’s 2020 League Index, the CSL ranked second in APAC football only to Japan’s more established J1 League. The CSL comfortably outscored competitors such as the Indian Super League and K League across key metric groups. Yet, uncertainty remains ahead, both with the pandemic and the introduction of tighter government regulations on corporate owner influence and player salary caps.

European teams and leagues keeping a close eye on the market

In Europe, top leagues and teams continue to look toward China as a key frontier for growth, both in terms of unlocking new fan segments and bolstering revenue streams such as broadcast and sponsorship. Increased connectivity in the market continues to grow this opportunity and is cause for European optimism.

Chinese fandom is not homogenous

In China, football isn’t the only game in town. Basketball is hugely popular and as a result the NBA continues to emphasise its strategic importance. Esports is flourishing in China and threatens to disrupt attention that might otherwise have been won by traditional sports. Some teams such as Wolverhampton Wanderers are attempting to bundle European football with Chinese esports interest to amplify its brand.

Emerging opportunities as China emerges from the pandemic

The pandemic put a halt to many international friendlies and regional tours that have become typical of teams attempting to break into new markets. As the world emerges from the pandemic there will be heightened interest in hosting competitions in China in order to recapture lost attention.


Key findings
The Chinese Super League at a glance
China’s football landscape
China’s current international status
Social and technological progress outline future opportunity
CSL a strong performer within APAC
Guangzhou Evergrande at the pinnacle of APAC sport
Football in China to face increased competition
Chinese Football: a story of local versus global
Western European Leagues still reliant on domestic partners
Commercial partnerships stemming from China
China’s sponsorship highlights: football and beyond
Manchester City partner with Alipay
FC Barcelona partner with Chinese Academy of Art
Wolves tap into Chinese esports popularity
Key Takeaways


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