Chinese Basketball Association clubs will be involved in the league's commercial operation after the establishment of CBA League (Beijing) Sports Company, in which the 20 clubs own 70 percent shares.
The company was registered at the end of last month, and was officially unveiled in Beijing this week. Shanghai Sharks owner and former NBA star Yao Ming was named vice president. Li Jinsheng, deputy director of the China Sports Bureau's basketball management center, will be the president.
The CBA's solely owned China Basketball Giant Advertisement Company owns the remaining 30 percent of the new company, while each of the 20 CBA clubs has a 3.5 percent share. The new company's seven-member board comprises two CBA officials and five representatives from five CBA clubs.
CBA League (Beijing) Sports Company will be in charge of the league's commercial operation, including advertisement and broadcasting rights, starting from next April.
It will hand in 5 percent of its annual profit to the CBA to develop women's basketball, as well as another 5 percent for youth basketball development and as a preserved fund. If the company runs well, it will be granted the right to run the league itself, the CBA said.
"This is a steady first step," Yao told reporters in Beijing. "Now there are countless steps ahead for us. For me, there is happiness, but it's more about shouldering the pressure."
Yao said the company will soon work on future commercial plans, which would be "different" from before.
The establishment of the company is considered a revolution for the CBA, a league calling for more market-oriented operations. For the past two decades, the CBA has run its commercial operation. It named Infront Sports its marketing partner, and sealed a 2-billion yuan (5 billion) four-year sponsor deal with sportswear brand Li-Ning in 2013.
Yao has been a pioneer in pushing for a revolution in the CBA. As chairman and general manager of China Professional Basketball Club United Inc — a company founded in February by 18 of the 20 CBA clubs, excluding Shanxi and Zhejiang, Yao suggested that the CBA hand over the commercial rights of the league to it — a request which was turned down.
Yao said earlier that his company wants to build the CBA into a market-oriented league like the NBA which is managed by its investors. However, just days after Yao revealed plans for his company, the CBA announced the reform project of CBA League Sports Company, which was almost like a slap to Yao's face. The association also turned down Yao's request of making his company a member of the new CBA League sports Company.
"Our goal (of improving China's basketball) won't change, though different people will opt for different methods and choices," said Yao, a former Shanghai Sharks stalwart.