• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 12th July

Here are the top China sports business news stories you need to know from this week, and my From the Top interview is with Aidan Mullally, Head of Business Development at Tottenham Hotspur FC, where we discuss the Club’s recent launch on e-commerce in China and upcoming China Tour.

Tottenham Hotspur Launches E-commerce Stores The English Premier League club has launched official e-commerce stores in China. The Club will produce and sell a wide range of merchandise and products to its growing fanbase across the country. The first batch of products will include China Tour exclusives available online and offline at selected merchandise booths on match-day in Shanghai. Read more on SportsPro (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)

Mailman Take: This makes sense. Launching e-commerce stores ahead of a summer tour works well with increased awareness & exposure of the Club and more fans willing to spend money on the latest must-have products. There have been noticeable changes in shopping habits in recent years, as consumers buy fewer fakes and are now more inclined to spend their rising disposable income on originals at a premium. I often struggle between differentiating between a real and a fake, and I’m sure I’m not the only one - having an official platform to buy from gives consumers the assurance of authenticity. 

City Football Group Opens Chengdu Office The owners of Manchester City FC, City Football Group (CFG), has opened another office in China, this time in Chengdu, Sichuan province. The opening of the Chengdu office further solidifies CFG’s presence in a country with one of the fastest growing football communities in the world, alongside offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen. 


Mailman Take: Strategically located in the same province as CFG-owned Sichuan Jiuniu FC, the new office is headed up by new CFG China CEO Scott Munn, who I spoke to a few weeks ago about CFG’s plans in China. Manchester City arrives in China next week for the Premier League Asia Trophy and has been making their presence felt already with noticeable branding on Shanghai’s metro cars.


Women's Football Scores $145 million Alipay Investment The online payment platform will provide RMB 1 billion ($145m) in funding for a 10-year project to boost China’s women’s football industry. Funds will be allocated to improve the national team’s setup and youth development, and also includes improving China’s women’s football coaching infrastructure, medical coverage and post-career opportunities for female footballers. Read more on CNN (English) and Sohu (Chinese)


Mailman Take: Alipay is making a considerable investment in sport having recently signed a long-term deal with UEFA from 2018-2026 to be official global payment partner. This latest deal, another extensive contract, highlights commitment to the cause. Announcing the deal around a FIFA Women’s World Cup and in the midst of growing social advocacy for equal pay lands Jack Ma and Alipay in a strong position. 


Sport & Fitness Participation Hits 64 Million The participation number has increased by 1.7% year-on-year to hit 64.22 million in May 2019, according to an industry report. Chinese data intelligence company QuestMobile revealed China’s General Administration of Sport and National Development and Reform commission expects total consumer spending in the sports and fitness industry in China to hit RMB 1.5 trillion ($221 billion) by 2020. Read more on Sport Business (English) and 36kr (Chinese)


China Tour News


European Football Clubs Set for China Tours As Summer tour season is upon us, Mailman & Seven League look at the challenges and opportunities awaiting a whole host of European football clubs heading East. Read the Blog on SportsPro (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese) Paris Saint-Germain Primed for China The China Daily interviewed Sebastien Wasels, Managing Director of APAC for Paris Saint-Germain, ahead of the club’s upcoming 11-day tour of China. Read the interview here (English)Juventus Going Extra Mile on China Trip The China Daily also interviewed Giorgio Ricci, Chief Revenue Officer for Juventus, about the club’s plans for tour, match against Inter Milan in Nanjing and an ‘additional surprise up its sleeve’. Read the interview here (English).


Esports News


Tencent Nets $66 Million in Media Rights The Chines media company announced it earned $66 million from esports media rights in the first half of this year, compared to $54 million during the whole of 2018. Read more on esports observer (English) and Sportsmoney (Chinese)


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From the Top


This week I spoke to Aidan Mullally, Head of Business Development at Tottenham Hotspur FC, where we discuss the Club’s recent launch on e-commerce in China and upcoming China Tour.


1. Launching e-commerce stores represents a major step in the Club's China strategy, what was the main reasoning behind launching now?

Over the last seven years, we have built a strong, loyal and highly engaged fan base across our various social media platforms in China - we were the second Premier League club to launch on Weibo back in 2012, we were the first to launch on Douyin last year and we now enjoy a following of over 2.5million fans across our various channels.   Our fans have shown a real desire to get closer to the Club at every opportunity and the launch of our new Tmall and WeChat stores is a logical next step with our fans wanting to wear official club product with pride. In addition, now have the opportunity to work with the right local partners to deliver the best possible experiences for our fans as this is something we refused to compromise on.  And clearly, it is great timing to be able to launch these stores in advance of our First Team playing in Shanghai later this month.


2. How does this launch tailor into the Club's overall strategy across Asia? 

Asia is a hugely important market for us and we are experiencing sustained growth across all areas of the Club, but we believe that each market requires a bespoke approach and this is no different in retail. China operates a very different retail infrastructure to the rest of Asia and we felt that it was so important to align with the local market. Our launch will enable Spurs fans to buy official club product in their local language, currency, payment options and delivery timelines on the key Chinese shopping platforms.  We are adjusting to the behaviour of our Chinese fans rather than expecting our fans to adjust to us.


3. The Club will be in China in a couple of weeks, what can the fans expect this time around?

We are very excited to be back in mainland China for the first time in 10 years, and in particular, to be making our maiden trip to Shanghai.  We’re very proud of our International Tours programme and have been fortunate to bring our First Team to the likes of Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong and Sydney in recent years. The opportunity to bring our tour to Shanghai was an opportunity we couldn’t turn down.  

Our strategic approach has worked well wherever we have travelled, with a focus on working tirelessly to be visible and accessible to our fans at every opportunity.  This tour will be no different, but again, it will be critical to embrace the unique opportunities that China and Shanghai in particular presents. Fans can expect some exciting activities with access to our First Team, Global Football Development Coaches and our Ambassador, Ledley King, who has been to China a number of times in his role at the Club.  For those fans unable to travel to Shanghai, we’ll be very active across Weibo, WeChat, TMall, and Douyin to ensure our fans feel as close to the Club as possible. This tour also enables us to visit Shanghai, the birthplace of our Global Principal Partner, AIA, in its Centennial year – a year of great significance for our long-term partners. -- Now you can subscribe to our China Sports Business Weekly brief and have it delivered directly to you, wherever you are. Mailman is a global sports digital agency and marketing platform. We help global rights holders, athletes and brands build a successful business across China, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Learn more about our story here

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