Portuguese football league will have to sign 10 players from China next season

Some bonkers news just in: Portugal’s second tier football league — the Segunda Liga — will be forced to sign a certain number of players from China as part of a new exclusive sponsorship deal with Chinese corporation Ledman.

The quirky tidbit first came to light on Twitter via the Messi Minutes’ football news account:

Local newspapers are also reporting on this deal, though football authorities have yet to confirm the specifics. However, a press release issued by Ledman does confirm the veracity. It said:

“Ledman obtains a series of business cooperation rights, also becomes the first Chinese company that title sponsors the European football league; Ledman will send 10 players and 3 assistant coaches to play football in the top 10 clubs of Segunda Liga, and devotes to enhancing the level of Chinese players.”

The deal says nothing about teams being forced to play the players, it does stipulate that if a club is one of the “top 10 clubs” in the second tier, they’ll be expected to take a player from China.

While there are clear commercial benefits to signing players from Asia and other lucrative football-loving markets, this does seem like an unusual deal. It would be interesting to know whether the Segunda Liga clubs had any say in this.

As part of the deal, the Portuguese second tier will also be renamed Ledman Proliga from next season.