Yao Ming attends the launch in Beijing of the CBA League (Beijing) Sports Co on Tuesday. He will be vicechairman of the company. (WEI XIAOHAO / CHINA DAILY)
Retired NBA basketball star Yao Ming has shifted his focus to reforming the game at home after a new company was established based on his proposal to run the domestic league professionally.
The Chinese Basketball Association, together with 20 top-tier clubs, announced on Tuesday the establishment of CBA League (Beijing) Sports Co.
Its task will be to reform the administration of the domestic league through more professional approaches in commercial and athletic operations.
As owner of his hometown club, the Shanghai Sharks, Yao has been an advocate of such reform since he retired in 2011.
Citing the example of the NBA, which is jointly owned by team investors and managed by professional executives, Yao led a group of representatives from 17 other clubs in negotiations with the government-controlled association for months before the company was officially registered in October.
"I feel a lot of pressure. It's like sending your child into society to let him survive on his own after nursing him for 20 years. It's a must-do process, though," said Yao, who was elected by 20 club shareholders as vice-chairman of the company.
Li Jinsheng, deputy head of the CBA, was named chairman of the company.
The association, through a wholly owned subsidiary, will control a 30 percent stake in the company, while each of the 20 clubs will have a 3.5 percent share.
The CBA used to control major aspects of the league, including broadcasting negotiation, sponsorship deals and youth cultivation.
The association will first relinquish the commercial rights of the league to the new company and then step aside to give it complete control after a transition period, Li said.
"We will be hands-off to let the company run the league independently, as long as the trial period goes smoothly," Li said on Tuesday.
The priorities of the company are to formalize its organizational structure and management system as well as to hire executive staff, Li said.
Zhang Qing of sports marketing consultancy Key-Solution said, "It's a major advance in professional sports in China, since an independent company will represent the genuine interests of league clubs from the business standpoint."
"This never truly happened before," Zhang added.