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Football in China – all talk?

Paul Gordon takes a view on the recent McKinsey report on soccer in China….

As a Brit, I call it football, but the recent study from McKinsey on Soccer in China makes interesting reading.

The failure of the beautiful game to take of in the way it should have at national level continues to frustrate. Even the Government has been discussing the dismal state of Chinese soccer.

The guidance from on high is that the authorities and administrators now need to consider the sport a leisure and entertainment business not a game. China’s record in doing this is good – especially in hospitality and increasingly, arts and filmmaking.

On a global basis, the soccer industry is huge. The passion of supporters results in billions of dollars in revenue from merchandising, TV rights and of course match day ticketing sales.

A movie at a top cinema costs the Chinese consumer can cost around $20. A season ticket at a Chinese top division club can be as little as $100. My season ticket at Tottenham Hotspur, sadly these days a mediocre top flight team, costs around $2900 whilst I would also pay around $20 to watch a movie – just as I would in Shanghai.

Of course, it’s chicken and egg. If the Chinese consumer was as desperate to watch a soccer match as a top movie they would pay for the privilege. Perhaps if the Chinese league had a Hoddle, a Greaves, or a Gazza they might.

Until then, the odd Drogba or Anelka might maintain some interest but not fundamentally change anything and those of us who love the beautiful game and are fascinated by China will just keep talking about its impending soccer/football revolution.