By Prof dr Ian Blackshaw
Chinese football team, Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Football Club Co Ltd (Evergrande Taobao) with a market capitalisation of 10 billion yuan (US $1.61 billion) – Manchester United, in comparison, has a market capitalisation of US $3 billion) – filed on 2 July, 2015 with the Chinese Stock Exchange Authorities to list on the so-called ‘Third Board’.
The Chinese team is jointly owned by the major Chinese e-commerce business, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., who agreed last year to pay $190 million for its stake in the team, and Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd (Evergrande), whose billionnaire chairman is Xu Jiayin.
The team won the AFC Champions League in 2013 and the Chinese Super League in 2014. The team has a 50,000 seater stadium in Guangzhou, which is China’s third largest city.
Evergrande has stated that it currently owns 60% of the team and does not intend to sell any of its shares in the IPO!
Once the IPO, the amount of which has not yet been publicised, is completed, the team would become the first football club to be publicly listed in Asia.
This listing may set a trend and other football clubs in the region could perhaps follow suit.
Of course, this development, once again, raises the controversial issue of the financing of football clubs, in respect of which the UEFA Financial Fair Play Rules, which themselves are under attack, have done something towards reforming the situation, which was out of control. However, the real issue remains: should football clubs be owned by major corporations and very wealthy individuals? In some cases, to be used as play things or expensive toys! Can this ever be for the good of ‘the beautiful game’?
What do our readers think? We would be very interested to hear from them with their views!
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw is an International Sports Lawyer, Academic and Author and may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.