China's football masterplan: why there's much more to it than stellar signings

Chinese Super League

"Financially speaking, the Chinese Super League already beats second-tier European leagues such as Portugal and the Netherlands,” says Joseph Lee, the Indonesia-born, Brazil-based agent who has overseen many of the recent transfers between Brazil and China.

“China has grown up financially and has the biggest population of any country in the world – and 20-30 per cent of these people are into football. If we can get them into the stadiums, we’ll have the biggest crowds in the world.

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John Duerden has covered Asian sport for over 20 years for The Guardian, Associated Press, ESPN, BBC, New York Times,  as well as various Asian media. He is also the author of four books, including Rovers Revolution: Blackburn's Rise from Nowhere to Premier League Champions and Lions and Tigers: The Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.