Despite a tough weekend for London’s Football Club Arsenal, with the loss of the lead in English Premier Leage and a harsh defeat 5 to 1 against historical rival Liverpool, there is still some reasons to rejoice for Arsenal’s fans. According to a survey designed by Coventry University’s Center for the International Business of Sport (CIBS) between September and November last year in China, Arsenal is the most popular european football club in China. Previously led by another English Premier League Club Manchester United, this ranking include AC Milan as the third most liked team, followed by two Spanish Liga clubs, the Real Madrid and Barcelona.
China is a huge potential market for european football club
This growing interest for football in China arise in the beginning of the 1990’s, when national television has started to show some games from English championship. Since this day, as the national team and championship do not offer the same quality, chinese footballs fan will be pleased to watch european football every week. At contrary, in spite of strong investment from passionate and rich chinese business mans, Chinese professional football never benefited of this passion. Mainly because of the important difference of level and quality, but also because of corruption scandals which give a poor image of chinese football.
Thus, this market shows huge potential for top european football club. Many of them have launched some specific campaigns to target this population in recent years. Some set up a tour all around China with organization of games against local team, with the aim of meeting local population and earning new fanbase. This is going to be a great deal at stake in futur marketing strategy of this worlwide companies (professional football club are companies) which have to find a way to target this population.
How Arsenal develop business in China
Strangly enough, Arsenal team did not travel to China as many as other top Premier League team, including Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and City. If we look at the Championship ranking during the time of the survey’s fieldwork, Arsenal was reigning supreme on the ranking, while Manchester United, former leader, was meeting some result issues. Thus, Chinese mainly choose to support teams according to the performance on the playground. But it is obviously not the only reason and clubs have some other factors to drive their popularity. Chinese often her-worship players more than team. In instance, Arsenal recently purchased german player Mesut Ozil who are one of the most popular worldwide player in China. “I was not a big fan a Arsenal until last summer, while I never missed a game of United” says Leo Yin, who choose is english name because of Barcelona’s player Leo Messi, “I have started to watch their games to see Ozil in his new team and I start to like the whole team and I would like to buy their shirt, with the gunners.”