Reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid got a huge cash injection on Wednesday, as the Spanish club announced they had sold a 20 percent stake to Chinese firm Wanda.
Atletico, who won La Liga during the 2013-14 season and also lost to crosstown rivals Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final, will work with Wanda to set up soccer schools in China and will also play games in China.
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One of the most interesting parts of this deal is that Altetico and Wanda will team up to build a $35 million youth center in Madrid which will provide training facilities for Chinese youth players. Will this help a sleeping giant of world soccer finally awake from its slumber? It certainly won’t harm it.
Wang Jianlin, founder and chairman of Dalian Wanda Group’s, is one of China’s richest men as the company operates shopping malls, hotels and cinemas in China. They also have hotel development projects in London and New York City.
Atletico, despite winning La Liga and reaching the final of the Champions League last year, struggle to compete with the vast financial riches of Spain’s notorious “big two” in Real Madrid and Barcelona, so finding opportunities like this has been crucial in advancing their success on and off the pitch.
After serious financial mismanagement in the past saw them struggle for well over a decade, their recent upsurge has in turn brought huge interest in foreign firms investing in Atletico. Emblazoned across their jerseys is the slogan “Azerbaijan: Land of Fire” as the oil-rich Eastern European country has pumped plenty of money into Atleti in recent years in a “strategic partnership” which sees young Azerbaijani players training in Madrid… Sound familiar?
Seems like Atletico has found a winning formula as it will continue to build links with emerging soccer nations in exchange for cash and exposure. In the world of Financial Fair Play, all of this make sense for a club like Atletico that continues to punch well above its weight.