(Yicai Global) Feb. 21 -- The owner of Manchester City Football Club has bought its first Chinese soccer club together with Chinese investors.
City Football Group, Sequoia-backed China Sports Capital and artificial intelligence firm Ubtech Robotics have purchased Sichuan Jiuniu, which plays in the third-tier of Chinese soccer, state-backed Xinhua News Agency reported today.
CFG believes strongly in the future of soccer in China, Chief Executive Ferran Soriano said. CFG will work with other shareholders to enhance the team's performance and build a strong relationship with fans, the London-headquartered firm added.
"We believe that AI technology will promote the development of the football industry to a new level and we will focus on developing Jiuniu to become a century-old club," said Zhou Jian, the chief executive of Shenzhen-based Ubtech, which has been a commercial partner of Manchester City since 2016.
China's central government issued a plan in 2015 to develop the country's soccer prowess toward becoming a great sports nation. The Chinese Super League, the highest tier of professional football in the country, hosts a slew of football stars from Europe and South America.
Founded in 2006, Chengdu-based Jiuniu plays its home games at the Chengdu Longquanyi Football Stadium with 27,000 seats. The club was the first third-tier team in history to reach quarterfinals in the Chinese Football Association Cup in 2018 and it will kick off its new season in March.
Investment firm China Sports Capital is jointly founded by China Media Capital Consortium and Sequoia Capital China. CMC became a minority shareholder of CFG in December 2015.
Editor: Emmi Laine