(Yicai Global) Nov. 3 -- With the concentration of population in the metropolitan areas, China's top soccer league -- China Super League (CSL), clubs have also been increasingly attracted to big cities. The CSL teams under the control of the real estate developers will hit a record high in the next season.
With Dalian Yifang and Beijing Renhe successfully being promoted to the CSL, four major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Tianjin, will have two CSL teams each playing for the 2018 China Super League for the first time. The number of the CSL teams in the four cities will make up half of the Super League's 16 teams.
Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are not only the top three cities in terms of total economic output in China, but each has a population of well over 10 million in urban areas. And Tianjin's total economic output and urban population in 2016 ranked the fifth in the country.
The other eight teams are based in Chongqing, Nanjing in Jiangsu, Jinan in Shandong, Changchun in Jilin, Dalian in Liaoning, Zhengzhou in Henan, Guiyang in Guizhou and Qinhuangdao in Hebei, most of which are provincial capitals, except for the prefecture-level city Qinhuangdao, home to Hebei CFFC. Qinhuangdao is located in the center of China's Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, which is also a focus of development for the owner of the team.
Shenzhen is the only major city in China which has no CSL team.
In the 2018 China Super League, the owners of five CSL teams are large and local state-owned enterprises with financial strength, whose businesses mainly involve ports, electricity, and real estate development, data from Yicai Global show.
The owners of 11 CSL teams are private enterprises, with nine of them are real estate developers, and the other two are giants in direct selling and e-commerce.
The teams owned by real estate developers have grown substantially. The owners of the two new CSL teams, Dalian Yifang and Beijing Renhe, are also engaged in real estate business.
Hundreds of millions or even billions worth of investment in a soccer team requires strong financial strength. Real estate giants surely have such muscle and capacity to invest in professional soccer.
For them, a winning soccer team means publicity for the brand. A good team, like Guangzhou Evergrande, has brought influence and market popularity to its owner, China Evergrande Group [HKG:3333], formerly Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd. As Evergrande has many real estate projects in the third- and fourth-tier cities, the success of Guangzhou Evergrande brings popularity for the brand among the local home buyers, said Ding Changfa, associate professor of economics at Xiamen University, Fujian.
Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao club has won seven Super League titles consecutively, three championships in Chinese Football Association Super Cup, two titles in Chinese Football Association Cup, and another two in AFC Champions League.