Chair­woman Wen Xiaot­ing, 27, molds Guizhou HFZC in her own im­age

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By CHEN MEILING in Bei­jing and YANG JUN in Guiyang

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

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