The growing financial clout of Chinese clubs was highlighted this month when Guangzhou Evergrande smashed China’s transfer record, spending $10 million to sign Dario Conca from Fluminense.
“For sure, the money from Evergrande is very large as far as I'm concerned, the money is good, so in the end I have accepted Evergrande’s offer,” said Conca, reported to be the third highest-paid player in the world. “I was also impressed with Evergrande’s sincerity. Besides helping to improve the teams results, I hope I can help improve and raise the image of Chinese soccer around the world.”
Backed by the wealthy Evergrande Real Estate Group, Guangzhou Evergrande has spent lavishly this year. It's paid off on the field and at the gate. Guangzhou is unbeaten this season and averages 45,000 fans a game. Other clubs doing well at the gate include Beijing Guoan (average attendance of around 40,000) and Shanxi Chanba (38,000).
“One or two years ago, there was trouble in China with match-fixing and the fans stopped coming," said veteran French coach Philippe Troussier, who coaches Shenzhen Ruby. "Now we have to make a new way forward and this is good news and a good way to get people back.”