Chairwoman Wen Xiaoting, 27, molds Guizhou HFZC in her own image
For Wen Xiaoting, 27, a former fashion magazine editor, soccer club Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng is a brandbuilding opportunity.
Until Xiaoting’s father, Wen Wei, picked up a 66 percent stake in the club in 2015 for an undisclosed amount, Guizhou HFZC was not a force to reckon with.
Not any more. As chairwoman of the club, Wen Xiaoting adopted a hands-on approach. All-round reforms kicked in with well-defined goals, often leading to spectacular results.
For instance, for the first time in its history, Guizhou HFZC got promoted from second-tier China League One to top-tier Super League this year.
“When the club got officially registered in early 2016, we set the goal to enter the Chinese Super League in three years. And we made it the first year,” she said.
The team appears to be coasting on the momentum of seven straight wins in the China League One last year.
In May, she hired Spanish football coach Gregorio Manzano, 61, and fired his predecessor Li Bin, a former national football team member, as chief coach.
After Manzano took charge, Guizhou HFZC won three matches in the Super League. After 15 matches, it now ranks eleventh in this year’s table.
But Wen Xiaoting believes both on- and off-field brilliance is key to a sports club’s longterm success.
“The promotion of a football team is similar to that of a fashion brand in that they both need to be known and accepted by the market. That can be achieved by packaging the entire operation,” said Wen Xiaoting.
Packaged and publicized as a symbol of youth, energy and hope, Guizhou HFZC has gone from strength to strength, both on and off the field, leaving a trail of marketing, branding and management success that is new in China’s sports industry
To start with, the Guiyang Olympic Sports Center, the club’s home stadium, received a makeover with its capacity expanding to 52,000 seats.
Wen Xiaoting believes cultural constructs around the club are key to sustainable development.
“I’ve spent years in the UK and learnt the football culture in that country. Many of the English Premier League clubs have more than 100 years of history. Whether or not people keep caring about the football club — well, that lays the foundation for development.”
So, she tried several ways to keep people engrossed in the club’s progress last year.
For one, cooperation agreements with media were forged