Report: J-League could allow majority foreign ownership

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Yokohama F.Marinos v Shimizu S-Pulse - J.League 2014

The are considering a policy shift that would for the first time allow foreign enterprises to hold a majority stake in its clubs, Japanese media reported on Sunday.

Under current regulations, foreign investors are allowed to hold no more than 49 percent of a club’s shares.

However, a new interpretation of the rules would allow such investors to establish a legal corporation within , which would then be allowed to hold a majority stake.

According to the report by Hochi, league officials met with Erick Thohir, the Indonesian billionaire and owner of Inter Milan, to discuss potential solutions.

“If [foreign investors] establish a Japanese corporation [rather than invest directly], it will make any unforeseen legal procedures easier to manage,” an unnamed league official told the paper.

The J-League has struggled in recent seasons with declining attendances, disappearing sponsorship revenue, and an inability to beat other Asian clubs in the race to sign foreign talent. The recently instituted J-League Club License System, while largely successful in preventing clubs from amassing unsustainable debt, has prevented Japanese owners from spending as freely as owners in other leagues.

These new rules could inspire foreign clubs such as Manchester City, who earlier this year purchased a 19.95 percent stake in Yokohama F. Marinos, to make bolder investments in Japan.

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