China plays ball in Spain by investing in Barcelona football club

Global Business

Barcelona is without a doubt the best football team in the world right now. It had a tremendous 2015 and is on course for similar success this season.

But their dominance may soon be challenged, thanks to a Chinese company.

CCTV’s Dan Williams reports.

China plays ball in Spain by investing in Barcelona football club

Barcelona is without a doubt the best football team in the world right now. It had a tremendous 2015 and is on course for similar success this season. But their dominance may soon be challenged, thanks to a Chinese company. CCTV's Dan Williams reports.

The breathtaking skyline of Barcelona is home to European football’s all-conquering teams.

But the city’s other club is also beginning to make a few headlines. Saddled with debt, the outlook for Espanyol had looked bleak.

But that changed when China’s Chen Yansheng’s Rastar group bought a controlling stake in the club earlier this year.

Mao Ye Wu is Chen Yansheng’s person on the ground. He said the attraction of the club was obvious.

“Mr. Chen found out about Espanyol when visiting Barcelona. He fell in love with the city. It’s a beautiful city, the climate, the people, the culture here, and the atmosphere. Previously, everyone around the world knew about the other club in this city, it’s more powerful, better known internationally, but here we have another historic club, with its culture, with a football base. There’s an incredible potential in this club,” Mao said.

But those plans could suffer a setback.

On the pitch, Espanyol continues to struggle in the wrong half of the table. And relegation remains a possibility.

But if all goes according to plan, Espanyol will retain their La Liga status, allowing the club to push on with the rebuilding process. And it promises to be a busy summer of transfer activity as Espanyol looks to close the gap on local rivals Barcelona.

The path the club hopes to take would echo that of Manchester City in England, whose recent success has eclipsed that of neighbors United.

“It’s a good example, that of Manchester. You can see there that with not just a big investment, but working well, with hard work and effort, you can achieve that objective,” Mao Ye Wu said. “It’s something that might seem impossible but if you always think it’s impossible, it will never be possible. You have to have that objective in mind, and if everyone believes in it, maybe one day we’ll achieve it.”

That is still some way off, but the ambition is clear.