The news of Jiangsu Suning’s lack of pay for training strikes is like a meteor, coming and going so fast, so fast that people can’t tell the truth of the news.
The club responded very quickly. Only about 3 hours after the news came out, the officials clearly stated that the unpaid strike was untrue news. Many fans also agreed with this view. After all, since the "Golden Yuan Dynasty", the Chinese Super League has rarely reported it. The news of unpaid wages, on the contrary, is that the high salaries of the players have caused some dissatisfaction from the masses. "Disbanding the national team", "letting the executed prisoners play games" and other thunderous names have emerged one after another.
What's more, although Jiangsu Suning's investment scale is not comparable to that of local tyrants such as Evergrande, it is also a well-established family. It is rumored that Teixeira has taken the lead in training. Since joining the team, he has rarely been associated with negative news. "Salary strike" will appear in Jiangsu Suning.
However, some senior media professionals said that the fact of salary arrears was true, but the time of arrears was relatively short. After the news came out, the club immediately filled up the salary and settled the incident.
Judging from the above information, the incident of salary arrears is either a fictional existence, or it does exist but has ended. Therefore, it is difficult for the incident to make waves in the short term. As for whether the news is true, it is difficult for us to get a definitive answer.
In a series of reports surrounding the news, I think one thing is quite reliable: the club’s salary arrears is not due to financial problems, but because the previous salary reduction negotiations with the players did not reach an agreement, which caused one or two Monthly wages are in arrears.
There are two main reasons why I think it is reliable: First, judging from the size of the parent company, there is no need to be in arrears of one or two months of salary, and the club will make up for the salary as soon as the news comes out. According to Qi's report, the club's finances are indeed fine.
Second, the Super League clubs are indeed pushing for salary cuts. At this year's investor conference, salary cuts and de-bubbling are no longer an initiative or requirement of the Football Association, but a consensus of investors. After 10 years of "Golden Yuan Dynasty", it is about to end now.
It should be noted that even if there is no epidemic, shrinking investment is a general trend. Before the outbreak of the epidemic, the Chinese Super League clubs had already faced considerable operating pressure. Some reporters said that the Chinese Super League teams had actually experienced wage arrears, and even rich teams were involved, but there was no relevant report. After the outbreak of the epidemic, some clubs are no longer facing operating pressure, but survival pressure.
Some friends may think that the “stress of survival” is alarmist, at least the parent company behind the Super League team is quite strong. Just like this time when there was a salary arrearage in Jiangsu, some people used the strength of Suning Land and its affiliated Suning Tesco group companies to analyze the rumors of salary arrears.
Even if salary arrears have little to do with financial factors, or a strike for arrears does not exist, it is not appropriate to confuse investors with clubs. Investors are not fake, but their funds may not be willing or able to invest in the club.
Investors invest for nothing more than two purposes: interests, or feelings + interests. Regardless of the purpose, interests cannot be bypassed.
Take Inter Milan, another club under Suning, for example. Although the Nerazzurri has lost nine years in ten years, this does not conceal the club's good development momentum.
In the past three years, Inter Milan’s losses have been significantly reduced, and in the 17-18 season, the club’s pre-interest and tax profit reached 24.8 million, and the 18-19 season only lost 11.1 million. Judging from the vigorous recruitment of Inter Milan in the last two seasons, the club's cost control is very satisfactory and its dependence on Suning Group's investment is becoming less and less.
It is foreseeable that after the team's lineup and tactical system are stabilized, although it is not profitable for the time being, it is not difficult to achieve a balance of payments. From the perspective of long-term investment standards, Inter Milan has full investment value.
In contrast to the Super League teams, the balance of payments is almost an unreachable goal. Of course, investing in the Super League team is not without benefits. The huge advertising effect still attracts many investors.
Take Evergrande as an example. Of the 566 million advertising revenue the club made last year, 463 million came from the parent company Evergrande Real Estate. Conspicuous advertising spaces such as team uniforms and stadium billboards were naturally left to Evergrande Group.
Of course, the investment of Evergrande Real Estate has not been frustrated. When it first invested in football, Evergrande did not have such a strong reputation. Ten years later, it has become one of the leading leaders in the national real estate industry. Among them, the publicity effect of the Evergrande club, which dominates the Chinese Super League and wins the AFC Champions League, can be described as a great contribution.
The model of Evergrande can be said to be the representative of the domestic private enterprise background team. Investors invest in the team to a large extent because of the advertising effect of the team. For the group, the team is basically an "advertising department" or "propaganda team."
From this perspective, Evergrande Real Estate’s advertising costs are not only the 463 million on the books, but the entire amount invested in the club is included.
According to the Evergrande Club's 2019 financial report, the total annual loss reached 1.94 billion yuan, plus the 463 million advertising expenses, the actual book investment of Evergrande Real Estate to the club reached 2.4 billion yuan last year.
Regrettably, the Chinese Super League clubs do not publish financial reports regularly like European clubs, so we can only get data from the Evergrande club. However, this does not affect our inference of the investment scale of the Super League club.
In 2018, Jianye CEO Hu Baosen revealed that the investment in Jianye for a year was about 700-800 million, and in 2019, the investment reached 930 million. Henan Jianye has been fighting for relegation. We can regard their investment scale as the bottom line of the Chinese Super League team. From this, it can be concluded that if you want to overmix, you need to invest between 900 million and 2.4 billion a year.
As far as the strength of the investors in the Super League is concerned, this scale should not be a problem. Take Evergrande Group as an example. Last year, the net operating cash inflow created by Evergrande Real Estate alone reached 20.8 billion. Continued investment in the club is not a big problem. .
However, no matter how strong investors are, a penny may not be superfluous. If the team's advertising effect does not have room to continue to improve, investors may not have the willingness to increase or maintain investment. What's more, next year the club name will be "neutralized", and the advertising effect will inevitably be greatly reduced.
It's not that this kind of thing has never happened. Sichuan Quanxing was a typical example. Moreover, today's investors' own business conditions are already different from the past.
The "Golden Yuan Dynasty" of the Super League is mainly driven by the real estate industry. Today, life in the real estate industry is not easy. In the second half of the year, rumors about the "three red lines" of real estate companies spread like wildfire, causing rumors among relevant people.
The so-called "three red lines" specifically refer to "the debt-to-asset ratio after excluding advance receipts is not higher than 70%", "the net debt ratio is not higher than 100%", and "the cash short-term debt ratio is greater than 1 time". If these three red lines are crossed, then companies will not be allowed to increase the scale of interest-bearing financing.
According to this standard, some practitioners compared the data of domestic leading real estate companies last year. The results showed that all those who crossed the "three red lines" were names familiar to fans.
The scale of interest-bearing financing must not be increased, which has a great impact on real estate companies. It can also be seen from the data in the table that high-debt operation is the main feature of real estate companies, and the main source of operating funds is debt financing, or in layman's terms, borrowing.
Although we have not yet seen any official documents on the "three red lines", judging from a series of actions by the central government in the second half of the year and several high-level speeches, the financing of real estate companies must be extremely difficult.
In fact, even without the "three red lines", the financing situation of real estate companies is no longer optimistic. Last year, the regulatory authorities imposed strict regulatory restrictions on the illegal inflow of credit funds, wealth management, trust and other asset management funds into real estate, which brought a sharp increase in financing difficulty and financing costs.
Take Evergrande as an example. Last year, their annualized commercial bill interest rate reached more than 30%, which shows the difficulty of financing. The huge financing costs also eroded profits. In 2019, Evergrande Group's turnover continued to grow, but its main operating profit margin plummeted from 27.2% to 15.5%. Among them, the financing cost, which increased by 55%, was an important factor in the rapid decline of this indicator.
During the epidemic, Evergrande launched a 25% discount sales strategy. It is generally believed that this is Evergrande’s main means of obtaining cash flow in an environment where financing is difficult and expensive. And the good performance also shows that even if Evergrande wins the AFC Champions again, the advertising effect may not be as affordable as the "25% off".
What's more, compared with the current liabilities of RMB 1.48 trillion, the sales of RMB 266.6 billion still face considerable debt repayment pressure. When the main business is facing greater financial pressure, the investment in the club must be much more rational. It can also be understood why Evergrande, which started with Jinyuan football, responded with a high profile to anti-bubble measures such as salary cuts at this year’s investor meeting.
Moreover, playing football at home is not the same as abroad. It cannot be solved by investors investing money and hiring a reliable management team. Still taking Evergrande as an example, in 2019, several of their large expenditures were related to naturalized players such as Goulart and Fernando.
From the perspective of Evergrande's previous lineup framework, they did not need such a large investment. Obviously, these inputs are directly related to the Football Association.
Of course, these inputs of Evergrande are largely voluntary. In its company documents, the revitalization of Chinese football was listed as its goal. But even if you don't have such a high level of consciousness, you can never escape the influence from the Football Association.
Take Guo Tianyu as an example. When he was in the Luneng team, he had a lot of fame. As a scarce high center forward in China, fans hope that he can learn from Pellet, or take advantage of his youth to loan to the second team to gain practical experience. But the National Youth Team’s monthly training camp has all these two hopes vanished.
Nevertheless, investors have to express their support. As for whether this support comes from the heart, people know it well. If they really support it, how could there be a joint letter requesting the establishment of a professional league this year?
The management environment is chaotic, coupled with the difficulties encountered in its own operations, investors' enthusiasm for football is no longer comparable to the past. Even investors may be able to tide over the difficulties with their own accumulation, but whether they will take the club to tide over the difficulties is still unknown. What some reporters said that "the Chinese Super League already has teams owed salaries" is not impossible.
Therefore, it is not alarmist to say that some Chinese Super League clubs have encountered an existential crisis. What is gratifying is that under the epidemic, the Football Association has not been excessively demonized, and it has also fully promoted the rematch and the entry of fans. These are very good results and a glimmer of light in the predicament.
But compared with the predicament, these achievements are not enough. The professional leagues that have been determined to be established must hurry up to establish and operate, and leave the market to investors for development, so that the club can be truly tied to the investor's chariot and overcome difficulties together with investors.