Guangzhou de­vel­oper to step up soc­cer in­put

China Daily (Canada) - - ONE WEEK FREE SMART EDITION - By QI­UQUAN­LIN in Guangzhou qi­uquan­lin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

De­spite the industrial slow­down, real es­tate de­vel­oper Guangzhou R&F Prop­er­ties Co will step up its in­vest­ment in soc­cer, aim­ing to be­come a do­mes­tic power in the sports sec­tor in the fu­ture, a top com­pany of­fi­cial said on Wed­nes­day.

“We have in­tro­duced a long-term devel­op­ment strat­egy — we are not only in­vest­ing in a soc­cer club, but also in the sports in­dus­try,” said Lu Yi, vice-chair­man of Guangzhou R&F Prop­er­ties Co.

The com­pany, which has al­ready in­vested in a lo­cal soc­cer club, plans to build a pro­fes­sional soc­cer sta­dium, a train­ing base and a soc­cer school to sup­port the longterm devel­op­ment of the club, said Lu.

“Devel­op­ment of the sports fa­cil­i­ties means we will in­vest more in the sports sec­tor, es­pe­cially in soc­cer, in the long term,” he said.

Mean­while, prop­erty sales in China are ex­pected to see a year-on-year decline of be­tween 1 per­cent and 5 per­cent this year, said a re­cent study con­ducted by global rat­ings agency Moody’s.

The num­ber of Chi­nese cities reg­is­ter­ing more than a 5 per­cent yearon-year decline in home prices dou­bled to 23 in De­cem­ber from 11 in Novem­ber, ac­cord­ing to data from the Na­tional Bureau of Statis­tics.

The Guangzhou-based de­vel­oper, which has de­vel­oped res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial projects in ma­jor Chi­nese cities, sawa 13 per­cent yearon-year decline in con­tracted sales in Jan­uary, ac­cord­ing to a pre­lim­i­nary re­port.

“De­spite the slow­down in the prop­erty in­dus­try, we will con­tinue to in­vest in the sports sec­tor,” Lu said.

At a press con­fer­ence onWed­nes­day, which marked the com­pany-in­vested soc­cer club’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to par­tic­i­pate in the AFC Cham­pi­ons League, Lu said the club was con­fi­dent of de­vel­op­ing as a soc­cer power both in the Asian and do­mes­tic leagues.

The club, Guangzhou R&F, won a play­off po­si­tion of the AFC Cham­pi­ons League last sea­son and will make its Asian de­but on Feb 10 at the Yuex­iushan Sta­dium in Guangzhou, the cap­i­tal of Guang­dong prov­ince.

“Three years ago, when we first in­vested in the club, we vis­ited our Euro­pean coun­ter­parts, and learned from them on how to go about the soc­cer busi­ness,” Lu said.

In the Chi­nese league, more than half of the soc­cer clubs are in­vested by prop­erty de­vel­op­ers in­clud­ing Ever­grande Group, Green­town China Hold­ings Ltd and Green­land Group.

“In­vest­ing in soc­cer is quite dif­fer­ent from the prop­erty busi­ness. We need the gov­ern­ment’s sup­port to build sports fa­cil­i­ties,” Lu said.

Chi­nese prop­erty de­vel­op­ers’ grow­ing in­ter­ests in sports in­vest­ment was prompted by the coun­try’s plan to ex­pand the sports in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try sources.

“The in­vest­ment, in re­turn, would help pro­mote the prop­erty busi­ness of in­vestors,” said YanQiang, deputy edi­tor-in-chief ofNetEase Inc, a Chi­nese In­ter­net por­tal.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port on China’s soc­cer devel­op­ment, which was is­sued in Novem­ber by Netease, Guangzhou R&F in­vested more than 5 mil­lion yuan ($800,200) and its city ri­val Guangzhou Ever­grande in­vested more than 8 mil­lion yuan in youth soc­cer in 2014.

“In­creased in­vest­ment from de­vel­op­ers will help boost devel­op­ment of both the prop­erty and soc­cer in­dus­tries,” said Yan.

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