As part of its long term international growth strategy, the EFL yesterday held its first Asian summit in Beijing with representatives of Club owners, prospective partners and the Chinese business community. The Summit took place just hours before the Carabao Cup Round Three draw makes its debut in the Chinese Capital.
Attendees first heard from EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey, who spoke of the EFL’s ambition to build on current domestic and international success to boost the organisation’s profile in ASEAN markets. Commercial Director Ben Wright then talked through the EFL’s commercial objectives, before a Q and A with the international media took place.
The EFL has a truly global appeal and continues to strengthen its reputation as one of the most watched competitions in the world, with live matches broadcast to over 170 territories across the world and attracting multi-million pound investment from international owners, including sponsors of both EFL Clubs and EFL competitions.
Fans in China and across the world now have greater access to the EFL than ever before and can follow their Club live this season, with matches distributed by Supersports and streamed via the EFL’s new international streaming platform, iFollow.
EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey said: “The Summit is part of a strategic plan to grow the EFL internationally and boost our profile and exposure in Asia that will hopefully lead to increased investment into our competitions.
“Importantly our new international TV deals also provide the perfect platform to showcase the EFL, our Clubs and the players across China, as well as our new international streaming platform iFollow which allows fans to access live EFL matches across the world.
“It is important that we continue to develop our global network to create opportunities for all 72 of our Clubs and we look forward to continuing this work over the coming months.”
Shaun Harvey was joined on stage by Northampton Town Chairman Kelvin Thomas and Birmingham City Club Director Edward Zheng who gave insight into their respective Clubs.
Northampton Town has recently secured investment from 5usport and Kelvin Thomas explained that the partnership is about education as well as success on the pitch.
“Investment from China is part of a long term plan for us,” he said. “Our partnership with 5usport is an educational one. We have education centres in China and the Club provides a lot of opportunities to the local University in Northampton. It’s a strategy that is now able to reach an international level thanks to the partnership.
He continued: “The Summit been a really positive event for us. Being a Club with Chinese partners, it’s an eye opener to see the opportunity for both Clubs individually and the EFL across Asia. We are impressed with the EFL looking at developing the game on a global scale.”
Edward Zheng, Birmingham City Club Director said: "There is a great appetite for football in the West Midlands with multiple Chinese owners. The area is attractive as there is a good economy and population and of course great fans.
"I can only see more international ownership in the future. The product of the EFL and Premier League is excellent and watched around the world. The level of interest in football in China and Asia is evident to see.”