China’s Wanda Group buys 20 percent stake in Atletico Madrid

Head coach Diego Simeone (right) has enjoyed great success with Atletico Madrid.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

BEIJING —

Chinese real estate giant Wanda Group announced it bought a 20 percent stake in Spanish champions Atletico Madrid for 45 million euros ($52 million) on Wednesday.

”Wanda Group’s capital contribution … will allow Atletico Madrid to significantly shore up its balance sheet, as well as accelerate the growth of its brand globally,” Atletico said in a statement on its website.

Atletico’s budget for last season was 120 million euros, compared to Real Madrid’s 580 million euros and Barcelona’s 470 million euros.

”This is a major step for the club in its efforts to build a leading global brand that will provide the financial resources to remain competitive in Europe,” Atletico chairman Miguel Angel Gil said.

The two groups will combine to open three football schools in China, and each year Atletico will be invited to play in China to ”bring advanced training and playing experience from Europe,” according to a statement on Wanda’s microblog.

They will also jointly invest 30 million euros to create a youth center in Madrid to provide better training conditions for Chinese youth players, with Atletico to provide special training programs for Chinese youths.

Wanda already funds a youth training project that has taken young Chinese players to Spain.

LA LIGA RESULTS

”We are delighted with the possibility of contributing to the growth of Atletico Madrid with its solid fan base and a brand that is rapidly expanding internationally,” said Dalian Wanda Group’s founder and chairman, Wang Jianlin, one of China’s richest men.

The company operates dozens of hotels, shopping malls and cinemas in China, and has undertaken hotel development projects in London and New York.

After years without silverware, the arrival of coach Diego Simeone in 2011 turned Atletico into a winner. Under its former player, it has won the Spanish league, the Europa League, the Copa del Rey, the European Super Cup, the Spanish Super Cup, and reached the final of the Champions League last season.

It lies third in the Spanish league at its midway point, and is set to face Barcelona in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.