Southampton’s Les Reed cautions clubs heading into China

October 10, 2016

Southampton’s Executive Director of Football Les Reed has cautioned clubs heading into China that they should think carefully on what they are trying to achieve.

Almost all major European football clubs are trying to tap into the emerging football market in China. La Liga’s Marketing Director Alfonso Bara admitted he’d never seen anything like it in his life.

Reed agreed with Bara, saying he too had never seen anything like the investment in football China had been making recently.

But Reed set out a note of caution to those looking to expand operations in China:

“I’ve had some experience working in China, working with the Chinese Football Association, and grass roots development is very high on their agenda, and very separate to what is happening with the Chinese Super League.

“European clubs are trying to get involved in the land grab have to be really clear on what they are doing, why they are doing it, and who they are doing it with. I think there will be possibly quite a few mistakes made.”

Reed also outlined that several different strands of Chinese football growth needed to be looked at separately, rather than being grouped together.

“I sense that there is a gap between what is happening with the Chinese Super League and what is happening with Chinese football per se. They are two very different things, they shouldn’t be seen as one and the same. The CSL is reminiscent of the early days of the North American Soccer League (NASL), when retiring players went off and spent the twilight of their careers out there. But this seems to be very different, there is a huge amount of money involved, deals that players can’t possibly turn down.”

iSportconnect spoke to Les Reed at SoccerEx

Reed also outlined his thoughts on Chinese owners becoming increasing prevalent in English football

“The Chinese investment into European football is another element that’s separate from the other issues. I think it is yet to be seen what the motivation is for some of that, I think there is a long way to go. Investment from China doesn’t worry me. There used to be a saying that all English clubs are up for sale at the right price! It seems to me that we have got used to foreign owners, they are the majority now in the Premier League.

“I think they bring with them different things. Some are individuals with lots of money, others appear to be corporations with different kinds of motivations. We’ve also had the American input, quite a lot of clubs have been bough by Americans, who come from a different sport ownership model. At the moment it’s no different really to English millionaires buying clubs 10 or 15 years ago. It’s just that the money has gone up, you have to be a billionaire now! “