Chinese LED light bulb company Ledman will become the main sponsor of Portugal’s second football division next season (2016/2017).
The deal was signed in Beijing, China this week by Pedro Proença, the president of the Portuguese League of Professional Football (LPFP).
How much money is involved or for how long the sponsorship will last has not been explained. LPFP said simply that more details would follow in “due time”.
The league will be named ‘Ledman Proliga’ and its “top 10 clubs” will have to include one Chinese footballer in their squad.
Three Chinese assistant coaches will also be placed in second division teams.
Though the deal guarantees the economic stability of a usually struggling league, not everyone is happy about it.
Football analyst Luís Freitas Lobo believes Portuguese football has “hit rock bottom”, he told TSF radio, calling on the government to intervene on the clause that forces national clubs to hire Chinese players.
Ledman was founded in 1993 and describes itself as a “leading manufacturer in China’s LED industry”.
Observador newspaper points out that this is “yet another Chinese investment in Portuguese football”.
“One of the main promoters has been entrepreneur Qi Chen, who last year became the main shareholder of Torreense,” a club that competes in Portugal’s third division (Campeonato de Portugal).
He also created his own team, Oriental Dragon Football Club, which competes in the second tier of Setúbal’s local leagues.