SBD/October 17, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

CCTV-IMG Joint Venture Signs 10-Year Deal With Chinese Pro Soccer League

CCTV-IMG, a joint venture between CCTV, China’s state TV network, and IMG Worldwide, has entered into a 10-year partnership with the Chinese Football Association Super League (CSL), the country's top soccer league. This includes developing the CSL, helping improve management of Chinese football clubs, advising on development of training programs for young and future players and bringing of corporate sponsors for CSL events. CCTV-IMG will immediately launch a marketing effort to bring new corporate partners to the CSL, including title sponsorship of the league beginning in '14 (CCTV-IMG). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Futterman & Mozur write the deal marks IMG's "return to a leadership position in one of China's most popular sports." IMG "helped China create the country's first professional league, the Jia-A League, in the early 1990s, but the two entities parted ways in 2003 when the league turned to another company." However, during the past decade, Chinese soccer "has been racked with charges of bribery and corruption, with dozens of officials sent to jail." A new generation of Chinese billionaires has "taken over the 16-team Chinese Super League and has begun to import some of the biggest stars in the world," including former EPL club Chelsea F Didier Drogba, who this year joined the Shanghai club. Drogba's move "signaled China's emergence as a growing force in international soccer." IMG Senior VP/Global Business Development & Football Jefferson Slack said, "The Drogba signing was transformational." CSL club Qingdao Jonoon FC CEO and CSL BOD member Yu Tao said that the league "decided to work with IMG partly to build the league's reputation abroad." Under the deal, IMG "will have a hand in every level of the Chinese Super League, assisting teams with selling tickets, running club operations and training players." China also is "intent on developing homegrown stars." IMG execs said that they have "discussed assisting with training but haven't reached an agreement on a defined role" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/17).
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