The prominent Chinese businesspeople behind a proposed takeover of Reading Football Club were previously subject to a Premier League investigation that raised “red flags” over their commercial background.
Earlier this month the English Football League, the governing body for the country’s lower professional divisions, provisionally cleared the acquisition of Reading by Dai Yongge and sister Hawken Xiu Li.
Chinese companies have invested in or acquired more than a dozen European football clubs during the past year, including Manchester City, Inter Milan and Aston Villa — a spending spree that followed President Xi Jinping’s call to transform the country into a football superpower.
The Dai family were also behind a recent bid for Premier League club Hull City. At the time, Mr Dai was quoted in the Daily Mail newspaper saying: “We have a love for the game and we want to learn about European football.”
Their most high-profile investment is based on transforming unused air-raid shelters in China into shopping malls. The family’s main listed vehicle, Renhe Commercial Holdings, has a record of financial difficulties and related-party transactions that last year led rating agency Standard & Poor’s to describe its corporate governance as “weak”.
Before the takeover of any club in England’s top tier, the Premier League undertakes an extensive review into a proposed owner’s finances before approving any transaction. According to people briefed on the deliberations over Hull City, Premier League investigators found a series of “red flags” related to the Dai family’s proposed takeover via a consortium.
In particular, there were concerns that the acquisition involved offshore companies that made it difficult for the Premier League to understand the family’s sources of funding, or whether they had sufficient income to maintain a large football club.
Hull City and the Dai family abandoned the deal before the investigation was completed. But the findings have been shared with the EFL after the Dais sought to acquire Reading, according to people close to the process.
The family has satisfied the EFL that it is structuring its Reading deal in a different manner to the Hull City proposal, according to one person close to the club.
This has allowed the EFL to announce last week that it has provisionally approved the takeover “subject to the agreement of a number of specific conditions” that have not been made public. The structure of the deal has not been shared with the Premier League, according to people with knowledge of the deliberations.
Reading, the Premier League and the EFL declined to comment. Renhe did not respond to requests for comment. Attempts to reach the Dais through representatives and at a London address were unsuccessful.
对雷丁足球俱乐部(Reading Football Club)拟议中的收购交易幕后的著名中国商人，此前曾受到英超(Premier League)调查，对其商业背景“亮起红灯”。
这个月早些时候，英格兰足球联赛(EFL)暂时批准了戴永革和他的姐姐戴秀丽(Hawken Xiu Li)对雷丁的收购。英格兰足球联赛是英国较低级别职业球队分组的管理机构。
去年，中国企业投资或收购了十几个欧洲球队，其中包括曼城队(Manchester City)、国际米兰队(Inter Milan)和阿斯顿维拉(Aston Villa)。这是在中国国家主席呼吁将中国建设成为足球强国之后出现的收购热潮。
最近对英超球队赫尔城队(Hull City)的竞购，幕后也有戴氏家族的身影。当时，《每日邮报》(Daily Mail)援引戴永革的话表示：“我们热爱足球，我们希望学习欧洲足球。”
他们最受瞩目的投资，源自将中国废弃防空洞变为购物中心。戴氏主要的上市机构人和商业控股(Renhe Commercial Holdings)曾有过财务困难和关联交易的记录，这曾导致评级机构标普(S&P）在去年评价其企业治理“疲弱”。