BEIJING and NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire) - IMG Worldwide, the global sports, fashion and media company, today announced a landmark football deal in China, the second largest and fastest growing large economy in the world. Football in China, where sports are an important part of an expanding consumer economy, is extremely popular at all levels.
CCTV-IMG, a joint venture between CCTV, China's state television network, and IMG Worldwide, has entered into a comprehensive, strategic, 10-year partnership with the Chinese Football Association Super League (CSL). CCTV-IMG and the CSL will work jointly to bring global best practices to capitalize on the enormous popularity of football in China. This includes developing the CSL, helping improve management of Chinese football clubs, advising on development of world-class training programs for young and future players, and bringing of corporate sponsors for CSL events. The CSL has continued to grow with the national telecasts on CCTV of nearly 70 matches this year as well as the continuing arrival of some the world's top footballers and managers.
As a result of this agreement, IMG is back in China's professional football market after a ten-year hiatus. Through this new strategic partnership, CCTV-IMG will immediately launch a broad based marketing effort to bring new corporate partners to the CSL, including the title sponsorship of the league from 2014. CCTV-IMG will also create training programs for league and club management, interface with top international football entities, develop special football events and establish a high level global football forum in China.
Michael Dolan, Chairman and CEO of IMG Worldwide, Mr. Wei Di, Head of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), Mr. Jiang Heping, Managing Director of CCTV Sports and Chairman of CCTV-IMG Sports Management Company, Mr. Zhu Qilin, Acting President of CSL, Mr. Adam Zhu, President and CEO of IMG China, and other guests attended the signing ceremony in Beijing.
Before the signing, Chairman Wei said, "It is mutually beneficial and synergistic for CCTV-IMG and CSL to form this strategic partnership at this historic time in Chinese football. I am especially pleased that IMG is returning to Chinese football after a 10-year interval, and the Chinese Football Association (CFA) is happy to support this partnership to develop the CSL into a world-class league. I look forward to working with our partner to build Chinese professional football together."
"We believe this partnership can be very powerful," said Michael Dolan of IMG. "As IMG is involved in all sports around the world, we know that football has become the one true international sport. Judging from the success of Chinese sports team in the Olympic Games, we believe that working together we can also develop world-class Chinese footballers and teams," the IMG Chair continued. "CCTV-IMG and the CSL, combined with the reforms implemented by Chairman Wei, truly sets the table for international development of football in China. I pledge that all of IMG's worldwide expertise and resources will be available to support this strategic initiative."
Mr. Jiang Heping, Managing Director, CCTV Sports and Chairman, CCTV-IMG Sports Management Company said "For CCTV, especially CCTV Sports, CSL is a valuable partner that provides important broadcasting content. CCTV is committed to our role in developing CSL in the long run, and CCTV Sports will invest more resources to support the CSL in the future. We view IMG's return to football in China as a show of confidence in the CSL and the Chinese football market. Today is a new beginning; I wish our partnership great success."
Mr. Zhu Qilin, Acting President, CSL Co. Ltd added, "Twenty years ago IMG worked with CFA to start the first professional football league in China and achieved tremendous success. Today, at a time when the CSL is about to turn 10 and when Chinese football needs help and support most, IMG is coming back. We hope that through this strategic partnership with CCTV-IMG we will be able to secure CCTV's continued support and leverage IMG's expertise and resources in marketing and event execution. We believe that this partnership will be a very productive and successful one."
Yu Hongchen, Vice Chairman of CFA and Chairman of the CSL stated after the signing, "Chinese professional football, which was started with the tremendous support from IMG twenty years ago, has achieved great success and also experienced substantial challenges. Now our partnership with IMG is entering a new era. At a time when the CSL is coming into its tenth season, CCTV-IMG has now become our strategic partner. We look forward to working with our old friend and new partner to build a prosperous future for the Chinese football."
Adam Zhu, President and CEO of IMG China said, "The Chinese people take football very seriously, especially in the current situation. It's a matter of patriotism and pride. Hence the urgency to build Chinese football to world-class standards. IMG and CCTV value this unique opportunity to partner with the CSL. It's beyond business."
History of IMG in China
IMG has had a long and illustrious history in China. In 1979 IMG was the pioneer in the Chinese sports market and has been committed to developing that market since then. IMG was the company that introduced the concept of "sponsorship" to the Chinese sports market since its reform and opening up in 1978; IMG organized the first international tennis tournament in China; IMG was the one to bring Chinese sports programming to the international markets for the first time; IMG was the one who helped launch the first professional football (CSL) and basket league (CBA) in China.
IMG's involvement with Chinese football began when IMG generated the funding needed to launch China's first professional league in 1994. IMG has subsequently sourced all major sponsors for both the Chinese National Football League and the Chinese FA Cup. IMG secured Marlboro (Philip Morris) to be title sponsor of the Chinese National Football League from 1994 to 1998 and helped develop football to become the most popular spectator sport in China, attracting over 20,000 spectators per game. In 1999, through IMG, PepsiCo Inc signed a five-year deal and became the new title sponsor of the league, which was then Pepsi's largest sponsorship deal globally.
In 1995, IMG joined hands with the CFA again to create the China FA Cup and secured Philips Electronics to be the title sponsor from 1995 to 2001.
In 1998, IMG successfully sourced British coach Bobby Houghton to be the head coach of the Chinese national team. From 1994 to 1995, IMG Media (formerly TWI) distributed CSL contents internationally on a weekly basis and represented CSL's international distribution rights in America, South America, and Italy. In addition, IMG designed and launched CFA's official website in partnership with CFA.
About the Chinese Super League (CSL)
The Chinese Football Association Super League, commonly known as Chinese Super League (CSL), is the highest tier of professional association football in China, operating under the auspices of the Chinese Football Association (CFA). The Chinese Super League was created by the rebranding of the former top division Chinese Football Association Jia-A League in 2004. IMG helped create the Jia-A League in 1994 and was exclusive commercial partner for the next ten years. The CSL season starts in February or March and ends in November or December. There are 16 teams in the current season, playing 30 games each for a total of 240 games in the season. The two lowest-placed teams by the end of the season are relegated to the China League One.
CCTV-IMG Sports Management Company (CCTV-IMG)
CCTV-IMG Sports Management Company (CCTV-IMG) is a 20-year exclusive joint venture formed by IMG Worldwide, Inc., the global sports, entertainment and media company, and China Central Television (CCTV), the world's largest television network. Headquartered in Beijing, CCTV-IMG is committed to creating, developing and promoting world-class sporting events and sports programming across China, including Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, which will serve as a completely new platform for a broad range of corporate sponsors in the region.
Among the events that CCTV-IMG have developed and promoted are:
Shanghai Lake Malaren Masters (Now the BMW Asian Open)
WTA Shenzhen Tournament
Li Na & Friends
China Touring Car Championship (CTCC)
Volvo Ocean Race
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