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Football In Asia

Not only is the “beautiful game” already a massive success in Asia but it’s also growing at an accelerating pace. Big sponsorship deals, big name players such as Didier Drogba and Nicholas Anelka, plus the World Cup in 2014 with Japan, Iran and South Korea representing the continent means football will continue to dominate the front as well as the back pages of our news.

Nigel Jones and Paul Poole from the Football Studio, which this month opens its Bangkok Office, give an insight into what are the trends in football sponsorship and marketing in Asia.

Key Facts
–       Growing demand for ‘top quality’ South American, African & European players in Asian top flight leagues
–       “The Greatest Show On Earth”,the Premier League is broadcast to over 600+ million people in over 200 countries worldwide – hugely popular in Asia. In China, matches attract television audiences between 100 million and 360 million!!
–       The Premier League Asia Trophy is the only Premier League affiliated tournaments to be held outside England and has been played in Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and China involving Premier League clubs playing against local teams
–       In 2012 Chelsea’s then Didier Drogba signed to Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua earning £200,000 a week
–       2014 is a big year for Asian football with three countries representing AFC at the FIFA World Cup – Iran, Japan and South Korea all of which have a great chance to progress to the last 16 and maybe further!


Paul Poole, says: “The growing number of better quality players playing in our leagues is great for Asian football, attracting more sponsors and more money in to the game.”

“A couple of years back, with leagues having to comply with Asian Football Confederation (AFC) rules on number of foreign players allowed in a squad there was an immediate problem as top teams found themselves with too many foreign players. Several Thai Premier League (TPL) clubs were forced to loan them out to lower league clubs. However, what we are seeing now is this limiting of the number of foreign players means clubs are choosing to buy top quality foreigners and this can only be a good thing for the game at a development level as it forces clubs to give more local youngsters a chance.”


Foreign Players & Local Development
Foreign players are profoundly beneficial to any league, providing both diversity and added expertise. The influx of foreign players means:

Fitter Squads

Squads become more physically equipped due to the influx of stronger, more athletic players – they learn a lot about strength and how to protect the ball.

Better Mental Approach

Foreign players approach the game, with a high competitive spirit to raise the game to a different stage. Technically, very few of them are better than the local players it’s just their size and athleticism dominate – better quality foreigners will help raise the standard of the leagues and at the same time help teach the local players how to become better players.
Diverse Backgrounds – there are over 60 foreign players in the Thai Premier League from many different countries, including Brazil and professionals from Argentina and Germany. Similarly, Vietnam has over 100 foreign players in its premier league.


Foreign players make the leagues more attractive for fans, sponsors and television. It also provides the local players with a far more rounded football education.


Some countries like Singapore and Vietnam are taking advantage of FIFA’s naturalization rule with the fielding of foreign players at international level is no longer merely a means of stealing a match on rivals but a case of maintaining pace. In the past year, players of Ukrainian, Nigerian and Brazilian extraction have received call-ups to play for Vietnam. Thailand has adopted a stricter approach to naturalization, with its refusal to play anyone without Thai ancestry. However, it has been proactive in enticing players of Thai descent playing in European leagues to come and play for the national side. This then has an affect on other countries that need to keep up!

Nigel Jones, who is based in London, says: “We are experiencing a big increase in interest of top flight players with experience in The Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Eriverdise wanting to relocate to Asia to play in top leagues such as Chinese Super League, J League as well as the Thai Premier League and are in a great position having Paul on the team with his contacts and experience in Thailand having worked with many of the Thai clubs.”

About Football Studio

The Football Studio is an international marketing agency with Head Quarters in Europe and representatives in Asia including Bangkok, Singapore and Beijing.

The agency works with both Players and Clubs and is run by Nigel Jones a Football Agent licensed by The FA. The team offer professional representation and advice to Football Players and Clubs working with players at every stage of their career, from finding the right Club to negotiating terms of an existing contract, managing image rights and publicity to sourcing commercial sponsors and partners.

Football Studio offers a full marketing service to any business or individual involved in football including: Player’s; Clubs; Brands; Sponsors; Leagues; Clubs; Coaches; Media; and Youth Football.






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