The recent purchase of Chinese football club Sichuan Jiuniu by Manchester City has brought their total of affiliate clubs in Asia up to three – sparking discussion about which other Asian clubs have similar deals with their counterparts in Europe and what their implications may be.
With football in China just taking off, the enthusiasm of owners in the English Premier League towards this emerging market is understandable, with City’s pivot to China with Sichuan Jiuniu being the most recent. This team plays in the third tier of the Chinese domestic football pyramid and were bought by Manchester City this week as an official partner club.
Manchester City also has shares in the Japanese top division club Yokohama F. Marinos (bought in 2014). Their 20% stake in the Japanese football club has allowed them to become a key partner club to the City Football Group.
Yokohama F. Marinos are backed by famous automobile manufacturers Nissan and have hopes of adding to their existing three league titles.
Another Asian side in the City Football Group is Melbourne City Football Club. The English Premier League giants and their parent company own 100% of the shares of the Australian club, which changed its name from Melbourne Heart to Melbourne City in a complete makeover of the club after their takeover by Manchester City in 2014.
Another English team, Leeds United, enjoy a partnership with the Aspire Academy, based in Qatar. This famous academy is renowned for producing high-quality players, as proven by the 2014 AFC U-19 Championship-winning Qatar team consisting solely of players that had been trained at the academy. The senior team that won in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 was also full of players that had been produced by the same academy.
The partnership between Leeds United and Aspire began in 2018, as the Qatari organization’s former director general joined Leeds’ board of directors in April 2018.
Not only money, but ideas surrounding development and managing football infrastructure is shared between these affiliated clubs. Take the long-standing partnership between Tottenham Hotspur and South China AA which was signed in 2009, for example. Tottenham had the first option for the players at all ages whilst Spurs helped the Asian team with using advanced data analysis methods and other business-focused aspects.
For the lovers of sports betting, affiliations between clubs can really up the ante when choosing a bet, as such partnerships can drastically change a team’s performance in their particular league.
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As increasing numbers of partnerships are formed, we can make a safe bet on clubs sharing their technical expertise and knowledge, tactical skills and players.