How Hyundai A-League can profit from China’s surge

How might Australia and the Hyundai A-League benefit from cashed-up China’s ambition to become a global force in football? Asian-based football expert @JohnnyDuerden offers some answers.

Huge spending in China is just the beginning.

Deals such as giants Guangzhou Evergrande’s $65m capture of former Atletico Madrid striker Jackson Martinez have made the world stand up and take notice.

NEWS: Sydney FC set to face Guangzhou’s $65m striker


Guangzhou striker Jackson Martinez in action for former club Atletico Madrid.

He joins former Spurs man Paulinho, signed by Guangzhou’s Luis Felipe Scolari for a snip at just $20m.

It offers A-League fans a rare chance to see the future close up, as the pair are set to play at Allianz Stadium next month when Sydney FC host Guangzhou, a clash sure to attract a huge crowd. 

Alex Teixeira, it’s understood, is about to sign a deal to swap Shakhtar Donetsk for Jiangsu Suning, with a transfer fee believed to be around $77m, where he’ll see another big name in the changing room in Ramires from Chelsea, brought in for $50m. 

It makes former Arsenal man Gervinho’s swap from Roma to Hebei China Fortune seem piffling at just $28m. 

Meanwhile Shanghai SIPG – coached by Sven-Goran Eriksson – are paying goal-machine Asamoah Gyan almost $500,000 per week! 

As the days go by, the big deals keep coming, prompting headlines asking whether the Chinese Super League is going to challenge the big boys in Europe.

Silly money? Maybe. But it’s been paid – expect more headlines with the Chinese transfer window still very much open till February 26.

Australians too such as Tim Cahill, Trent Sainsbury, Matt Spiranovic and James Troisi are on board with their own lucrative deals.

OPINION: Why Aussies are joining China’s football revolution


Trent Sainsbury

But there are other areas too where Australia might get involved. One is physical fitness and conditioning.

This is an industry in its infancy in much of Asia but not in Australia. There are already a few coaches finding their ways around the continent and China is looking to learn from the best.

Also, there have also been inquiries if the Middle Kingdom can take something from Australia’s impressive rates of youth participation, a major weakness in China in the past.

If the Asian nation could replicate something similar to the percentage that play the game in Australia then there really would be a revolution.

Chinese businessmen have started to get involved in investing in clubs in Europe and it is not a stretch to ask if there is a possibility that there will be some tycoons looking to get involved in the Hyundai A-League.

For years, Australia has seen itself in football terms on the opposite side of the world to the big leagues.

If you wanted to watch them, you had to stay up until the early hours of the morning and it was hard to feel a part of something so distant.

Now, the big leagues are going to be in the same, or almost the same, time zone.

With Japan and South Korea, the two traditional powerhouses in Asian football, China is forming an East Asian power bloc.

This contains three of the biggest economies in the world with football infrastructure to match.

The more powerful China becomes, the more powerful the region becomes.

And with a little more longer-term thinking, Japan and South Korea can find the right way to deal with a resurgent Chinese Super League and ultimately a resurgent China in a way in which benefits all.

Australia too. There are rivalries between the three aforementioned powers that make it difficult to achieve complete co-operation.


Socceroos v China

But Australia can step in and become a close partner for China in a number of fields.

It can become a place for young Chinese talent to earn their overseas stripes in a competitive environment, a place perhaps for Chinese coaches to find work and/or learn.

A place for kids to come and receive some top-class training and a place for corporate China to come and invest and improve and increase the Australian market.

Adelaide United has been partners of Shandong Luneng for years, the Reds could try and step it up and lead the way for others (ironically they meet next week in an ACL group qualifier at Coopers Stadium).

The future is unfolding before our eyes.  But there is more to these massive signings in the Chinese Super League. 

Sometime in the next decade, China is going to start achieving some of its football potential. This is something that Australia can be a part of.

In economic terms, the two countries have a close relationship. In football, as we are seeing right now, there are plenty of opportunities, too.