Half of the 12 teams for the Chinese Men's Volleyball League failed to find sponsorships for the upcoming season due to what observers call a lack of professionalism in sports administration and marketing, Worker's Daily reported on Saturday.
The six teams from Shandong, Fujian, Liaoning, Sichuan, Guangdong and Hebei provinces have yet to secure corporate sponsors for the coming year. The season begins on Nov 16 and ends on Feb 14.
The teams are State-funded but the lack of sponsorships reduces both teams and the players' potential earnings.
For the teams that did find sponsors, the situation isn't much better. In the past seven years the team from Jiangsu province had to move its home court from the capital city of Nanjing to smaller cities like Huai'an, Taichou, and Changshu. This year, after securing a fund for 1.5 million yuan (S$317,456) from a real estate group, the team returns to Nanjing.
Statistics show that the number of men's volleyball teams competing in the nation's top league without any sponsorship has increased from three in 2011 to seven in 2013.
According to the Worker's Daily, Chinese sponsors favour the women's volleyball teams over the men's. Real estate developer Yango Group has recently announced an investment of 120 million yuan to the women's volleyball team of Fujian province over four years.
The group's investment overshadows the Jiangsu men's team's funding. For the men's teams that are funded this year, the sponsorship is seldom on the long term.
Gu Song, a professor of volleyball education and research with Beijing Sport University, said sponsors have a limited say in the management of volleyball clubs and reward distributions, while the regional sports administration controls the players.
Gu called for the sports governing body to delegate powers, separate the administration with operation in order to promote professionalism and market-based approaches.
"Otherwise,the women's team may face the same embarrassment," Gu said.