Parma Is The Latest European Club To Be Bought By A Chinese Investor

Jiang Lizhang, owner of the sports media and marketing firm Desports, now has a controlling interest in second division sides Granada CF and Parma.

Two-time Europa League winner Parma Calcio 1913 sold to Jiang Lizhang on Wednesday, adding to the growing trend of Chinese businessmen buying European socer clubs.

The following first and second division teams in Europe are now all principally owned by Chinese investors.

Club

Owner

AC Milan

Yonghong Li 

Inter Milan

Zhang Jidong (69% stake)

West Brom

Guochuan Lai (87% stake)

OGC Nice

Alex Zheng 

(majority of International Investor Group’s 80% stake)

Espanyol 

Chen Yansheng (90% stake)

Parma

Jiang Lizhang (60% stake)

Granada CF

Jiang Lizhang

Aston Villa

Dr. Tony Xia

Although terms of the Parma deal have yet to be disclosed, it will be substantially less than AC Milan's 740 million euro sale to Yonghong Li in April. 

Parma filed for bankruptcy in 2015, resulting in their drop from Serie A to Italy's fourth division. After two successive promotions, they'll play in Serie B next season.

 

Already the owner of Granada CF, Lizhang is now tasked with getting both of his European clubs back into the top flight of their respective leagues. In his first move to achieve promotion, Lizhang appointed former Parma and Argentine striker Hernan Crespo to serve as the club's vice president.

The incentives for promotion are especially significant as TV viewership increases dramatically in China. La Liga is in the middle of a five-year, $270 million contract with PPTV for exclusive media and broadcasting rights in China. The EPL recently sold those rights to PPTV in a record three-year, $700 million deal that will begin during the 2019-2020 season. In order to establish a successful brand and attract new fans, European teams, at the very least, have to be consistently competing in the first division.  

If Chinese-owned teams are contending for league titles, the gains for owners could be massive. For an example of the synergry between owning a European soccer team and a Chinese media company, one can look to Inter's majority owner Zhang Jidong. PPTV is a subsidiary of Suning Commerce Group, which Jidong owns. The streaming network is reportedly seeking exclusive rights to Serie A matches to add to its European soccer portfolio. Such an arrangement would be incredibly valuable for Jidong, as he could position Inter to receive a large share of primetime games and Chinese media attention.

Lizhang can increase Granada and Parma's exposure in China through his own sports marketing and media firm, Desports, which is based in Shanghai. 

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