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Does state media criticism mean anything for Inter owners?

Chinese state television suggest Suning’s purchase was a front for money laundering.

FC Internazionale v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Aside from continued rumors surrounding who Inter Milan is getting (or more specifically, not getting), the biggest thing surrounding the Nerazzurri is about its ownership.

Chinese Central Television had a television show on Wednesday that suggested deals like Suning’s €270 million purchase of 70 percent of Inter Milan could be a front for money laundering.

The evidence used to support this claim was the fact that the team had lost money in each of the last five years.

While this can be true in some instances, that would be the exception to the rule. By in large, top-tier football clubs do generate regular cash flow. Additionally, if money laundering was truly the motive, Suning would have to seriously inflate the value of their purchase, which was not the case when the company purchased its stake in the Nerazzurri.

The Chinese government has been throwing up road blocks lately holding Chinese companies back from making sizable foreign purchases. We should take into consideration that the way China regulates its business is a lot different from how the United States or United Kingdom does.

The Chinese Super League recently instituted a rule limiting the number of foreign players who can play in a league game — thus, in their minds, leveling the playing field for all teams in the league.

Keep in mind American businesses are notorious for diversifying their portfolio … not to hide assets but so as not to put all the proverbial eggs in one basket.

Company response

Late Wednesday, Suning issued a statement:

Want evidence of the want for international awareness, check out this Samsung smartphone Suning is releasing:

Pitch translation

So, what does all the state media talk mean for our illustrious owners in terms of the pitch? Not much really. Although, the company’s stock dropped off early Wednesday only to rebound later in the day.

FC Internazionale v Juventus FC - Serie A Photo by Pier Marco Tacca - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

Some have even suggested this criticism is a prime reason why Inter have been slow to move in the mercato, but I don’t really see this as being plausible. I think the club, at least in its own mind, is being tactical in this transfer window rather than just trying to make the big impact purchase.

Chinese influence

Don’t forget about the influx of influence Chinese owners have made in European football. Look at football teams with either sole or controlling ownership based in China:

Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion, Manchester City, Atlético Madrid, Lyon, Inter Milan, Espanyol, Nice, AC Milan and Slavia Prague all have either full control or majority control based in China. Additionally, Chelesa and Manchester City have foreign owners and even AS Roma is controlled by a foreign owner.

Does this mean all of these foreign owners are simply using football to funnel money in and out of the country nefariously? I kind of doubt that.

Something to keep in mind is China loves its football. Leadership in the country has not hidden its love for the game or its want to bring the World Cup to the nation. So, wouldn’t it make sense from a political standpoint for some of the richest in the country to invest in top-flight football like Serie A, La Liga and the Premier League?

What’s next?

So, does the latest salvo fired against Inter's ownership bring an explanation into why the transfer window has been relatively slow to open? If you are one looking for that big splash signing, then it’s likely you would think so. But, if the conventional wisdom is that Inter Milan is doing team building rather than finding one big signing, you would see things differently.

We Interisti want to see our club succeed and we want to see a strong mercato. In that, we also have to exercise a little patience.

Business lesson is over … Forza Inter!