Madrid, Nov 4 (IANS) Former Espanyol president Daniel Sanchez Llibre has explained his decision to sell the majority of his stake in the Spanish football club to the Chinese company Raster Group, which is led by Chen Yansheng.

The deal sees Espanyol become the first Spanish club to be under Chinese owners, although Atletico Madrid also have a Chinese shareholder in Wang Jianlin, the president of the Wanda Group, reports Xinhua.

Explaining the deal at a press conference, Sanchez Llibre said Espanyol had received “many offers” over the past 12 months, but the offer from Raster Group was the best.

“The investment will be between 65 and 100 million euros ($71 million-$120 million). I am very hopeful because until now nobody has been able to propose a project as Raster have done,” said Sanchez Llibre, who was impressed by the club’s new owner.

“I can’t describe how happy I am. We were in a difficult situation but when there is an investor like Chen, everything changes. We won’t be losing money because we have to pay debts and interest, instead we can invest in the club,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chen Yansheng told Xinhua about his plans for Espanyol, saying they had chosen the Barcelona-based outfit because “others have already Asian investors and Espanyol was the one looking for foreign collaborators”.

He highlighted the growing popularity of football in China, saying Raster Group “wants to make good use of this situation and invest in sports marketing”. Chen spoke of player exchanges and also the prospect of opening footballing schools in China. “We want to travel to China with the first sports director of Espanyol in order to visit possible investments and talk about opening Espanyol football schools,” he concluded.

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