Guangzhou developer to step up soccer input
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.