MADRID, Dec 9, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 09th Dec, 2016 ) - Atletico Madrid's new stadium will be called Wanda Metropolitano after China's Wanda Group, shareholders in the the Spanish giants, won naming rights, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo announced. Wanda acquired a 20 percent stake in the Champions League finalists for 44.98 million Euros ($48m) in April 2015, as Chinese firms and businessmen plough cash into some of European football's biggest clubs.
"I have the honour to officially announce that we have reached an agreement with the Wanda group for the name of our new stadium," Cerezo said without releasing the financial details or length of the deal. Atletico plan to move into the new ground on the northeast side of Madrid from next season after 50 years at the Vicente Calderon. Prior to moving to the Calderon, Atletico played in the Metropolitano stadium between 1923 and 1966. Wanda, owned by China's richest man Wang Jianlin according to American magazine Forbes with an estimated personal fortune of $32.
1 billion, has invested heavily in sport in recent years. In March the conglomerate became FIFA's first major sponsor following the scandal that saw disgraced former president Sepp Blatter replaced by Gianni Infantino. "We believe that this agreement can help the development and growth of Wanda sports in Spain and Europe," said Wang via video link from Beijing. "It strengthens the relationship between Wanda Group and Atletico Madrid." Wang also stated his hope that the Wanda Metropolitano will one day play host to the Champions League final.
As part of the initial agreement last year, Atletico agreed to set up a football academy in Spain for young Chinese players and tour China for a series of friendly matches. "With the deal signed this morning in Beijing we build on our ties with a multi-national with which we have worked with for a number of years in the training and developing of young players," added Cerezo. "It is without doubt the best partner for a journey to keep working towards an even better future.
" Atletico are enjoying one of the most prolonged periods of success on the pitch in their history as they have reached the Champions League final in two of the last three seasons. The drive behind the boom in football investment at home and abroad by Chinese companies lies in President Xi Jinping's interest in football and China's hopes to one day host the World Cup. "I have been told that the Wanda players are growing and improving rapidly," said Wang. "There are eight or nine that have the potential to play in European leagues," added Wang. As part of the move, Atletico also revealed a slightly modified new badge which will don their shirts from next season.