A match between Dalian Shide (blue) and Liaoning Hongyun on Oct. 6. (Photo/Xinhua)
Property developer Dalian Shide Group is reportedly negotiating the sale of its soccer club due to financial difficulties after the disappearance of its chairman Xu Ming half a year ago in connection to the Bo Xilai affair, reports Guangzhou's 21st Century Business Herald.
Xu is believed to have given bribes to Chongqing's police chief Wang Lijun, who was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for abusing his position. Wang was the right-hand man of the municipality's disgraced party chief Bo Xilai, who also has strong ties with Xu from his time as mayor of Dalian in the 1990s. Bo was dismissed in March, around the time that Xu was detained for questioning.
The city government of Dalian in the northeastern province of Liaoning has intervened in Dalian Shide's financial crisis since Xu disappeared, a local official told the newspaper. The city government has reportedly helped to collect money for the group as it was unable to pay its employees.
Rumors of Dalian Shide planning to sell its Chinese Super League soccer club of the same name have been circulating since May, with Red Bull and Dalian Haichang Group touted as potential buyers.
Red Bull is reportedly the club's preferred buyer, though the local government is adamant that the club should remain in the city and are concerned that Red Bull would move the team elsewhere.
"Shide soccer club is like a mascot for Dalian, they do not want the club to leave and are actively looking for buyers for it," an insider was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
The city government reportedly would like rival developer Dalian Haichang as the buyer, though Shide Group is not keen.
Dalian Aerbin Group, which also owns a club in the city, is reportedly the latest potential buyer on the government's list. A source claiming to be close to company's executives confirmed the parties are in talks but have yet to reach a consensus on a number of details.
The soccer club has been a small part of Dalian Shide Group, which has major business interests in property, finance and building materials.
The group currently has debts of nearly 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion), while most of its valuable properties have been mortgaged.
Dalian Shide Group 大連實德
Xu Ming 徐明
Wang Lijun 王立軍
Red Bull 紅牛