Mahajan Nair: Governance is the key to better development of Chinese football
China was confirmed as host of the 2023 Asian Cup which will be staged in this country for the second time. The development of the sport in China continues to attract attention, while the professionalism of football management is one of the areas that the country needs to improve on. In an interview with CGTN's Sports Scene, Mahajan Nair, Asian Football Confederation Head of Club Licensing, shared his thoughts on the importance of club governance.
“In the Asian Football Association, we have a club licensing unit, which works with football clubs, and member associations in Asia that make sure football clubs have a level of quality in their management so that they can participate in the national leagues and also in the AFC competitions. My job is to make sure that every club in Asia eventually gets to that level of professionalism,” Nair explained his job in the Licensing unit.
He then went into details of the basic managerial requirements that his team are trying to enforce.
“Every club needs to have a qualified coach, the current coaching qualification is set at AFC pro license. Every club needs to have a youth developing program so that they develop their own talent. And every club should pay their players on time. There should be no overdue papers. If there's an overdue paper, they won't get a license. Every club should have a budget and an audited financial system. So these are the basic managerial requirements that the clubs earlier didn't have but now we insist that you should.”
Nair further elaborates the goal of the Licensing unit is to achieve long-term success of leagues, and quality levels must be met by all clubs to help leagues prosper.
“We need to have football clubs which are long term surviving, and which is not a hindrance to the long term survival of the league. If a club goes bankrupt in between a league, then the whole league is affected. If the club doesn't pay the players or the coaches then our stakeholders are closely affected. If a club doesn't have a proper stadium, then our spectators are affected.”
The balance between licensing and investment in Chinese football clubs could be very difficult to achieve, and Nair said the key to that question is to find a sponsor. “There's a difficult formula to follow, but it is at the same time very simple. What we are saying is that – spend only the money you make. So, first of all, they will have to make some money. And some of the clubs in Asia are not really open to that idea historically. So now we tell them you have to find your sponsors. You better perform properly on the ground. Convince your sponsors that you are a stable club and that associations with you will only be beneficial for the sponsors,” said Nair.
China's spending on the football industry has drawn wide attention before, but in Nair's opinion, China is now on the right track.
“This discussion we started back in 2015, with the club licensing administration under the CFA and the CFA top management. The matter that some of the football clubs in China are spending more than they are earning was brought to our notice and the matter is being addressed now. The Chinese Football Association has come up with financial regulations to conclude the expenditure of football clubs back in December 2018. In Shanghai, we had a huge conference where we discussed how professionalism and financial management of football clubs can be achieved. And the new regulations are started to be implemented and I hope they will be successful in the future.”