China Policy Institute

China Soccer Observatory

The China Soccer Observatory (CSO) is part of The University of Nottingham's China Policy Institute (CPI). Established by Dr Jonathan Sullivan (Director of CPI) and Professor Simon Chadwick (CPI Senior Fellow), it has been set up to monitor, analyse, and publish insights into the growth and development of Chinese football domestically and internationally.

The CSO seeks to ensure that relevant stakeholders are aware of and informed about the most important issues pertaining to football and China. We place great emphasis on the academic rigour of our work, but also on its practical application in addressing real-world issues and challenges.

The CSO's work focuses knowledge creation and thought-leadership, academic research and publication, intelligence gathering and consultancy, and policy advisory services. Drawing from the strengths of our members, the CSO has particular expertise in the following areas:

  • Strategy formulation
  • Marketing and commercial development
  • Soft power and diplomacy
  • Politics and political economy
  • Media and digital
  • Socio-cultural impact

We are committed to producing work of the highest quality - academically and in terms of its relevance - and to collaboration with leading stakeholders in China and beyond. These stakeholders include soccer clubs, governing bodies, commercial partners and government agencies.

The CSO is explicitly collaborative and we welcome approaches from individuals and organisations seeking our assistance or the opportunity to work with us.

In addition to resources that will appear on this site, CSO members publish regular commentary in China Policy Institute: Analysis.

Key people

Jonathan Sullivan

Jonathan Sullivan is Director of the China Policy Institute and a Brighton and Hove Albion fan. His interests in Chinese football evolved out of a long-term research agenda on Chinese media and internet, and a lifelong love of all things football. His research is particularly focused on the entertainment/politics nexus in the Chinese context. 

Simon Chadwick

Simon Chadwick is Professor of Sports Enterprise at Salford University Manchester where he is also a Director of the Centre for Sports Business. His interests lay in the commercial development and management of sport, in particular in the areas of business strategy and marketing in sport. More specifically, Chadwick is currently engaged in research focused on brands, sponsors, fans and social media.

A significant part of his work is undertaken in an Asian context, with a strong but not exclusive focus on China. Most notably, he has researched and written extensively on China and Chinese football, including on fan (consumer) behaviour, perceptions of sponsorship among Chinese people, and the activities of online brand communities in football. In addition, Chadwick writes, comments and consults extensively on the significant changes taking place in Chinese football.

Among the organisations he has worked with on research and other projects relating to China, are FC Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur, Nielsen Research, the Deutsche Fussball Bund, the Chinese Football Association, Octagon Marketing, China Everbright, Sina, Tencent, the BBC and the British Council. He has also written columns on Chinese football for Newsweek, Reuters, China Daily, and Asia and the Pacific Policy Society.

Martyn Pearce

Martyn is based at Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University. He is the editor of Policy, the presenter of the site's podcast series, and managing editor of the academic journal Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies. A former journalist, television researcher and newspaper editor, Martyn's focus is Asia-Pacific public policy and he has a keen interest in sports policy in the region, particularly China's football ambitions. In addition to a love of public policy, he is a lifelong fan of Crystal Palace.

James Porteous

James is Assistant Sports Editor at the South China Morning Post, the leading English language newspaper in Asia. Since moving to Hong Kong in 2010, he has covered sport in mainland China, with a focus on the intersections between sport, politics and commerce. A frequent visitor to mainland China, he closely monitors the country's soccer scene and regularly reports on the latest developments.

Aidan Mullally

Aidan is Head of Business Development at Tottenham Hotspur. He has been at the club since 2011 following six years as a Strategy Manager at Deloitte. Aidan is responsible for the club's commercial programme which includes coordination of the club's international development initiatives. His career has seen him develop and deliver projects across Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, North America and Africa.

Johan van de Ven

Johan is a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. His research focuses on the interaction between central government and private enterprise, with a specific focus on investment in football. Before coming to Fletcher, Johan researched reforms to China's football governance system at China Policy, a research consultancy in Beijing. Johan first became interested in football in China after watching Beijing Guoan at the Workers' Stadium while studying at Peking University.

Mike Wragg

Mike is Executive Vice President and Global Head of Research for the Sports and Entertainment Division at Nielsen. Mike is responsible for all aspects of Nielsen Sports' global research capability, helping the largest organisations in the sports, leisure and entertainment industry – and the consumer brands that partner with them - make better commercial decisions through deep insight into their stakeholders, fans and competitors. Mike's team around the world work very closely with the largest parts of the global football infrastructure: FIFA, UEFA, all the major leagues, the teams with the largest fan bases globally and in China. Nielsen has been operating in China for decades, with a large commercial research team distributed across offices in several major cities.






China Policy Institute

University Park Campus

telephone: +44 (0)115 846 8462