A Chinese magnate has agreed to buy historic English football club Aston Villa, the latest in a series of investments from China into football worldwide as President Xi Jinping looks to make the country a global powerhouse in the sport.
The deal, reportedly worth 60 million pounds ($88 million), will see the chairman of little-known Recon Group, Xia Jiantong, become the first mainland Chinese to fully own an English team.
Under the leadership of Xi, an avid fan, China has made it a goal to one day win the World Cup, and has ploughed huge amounts of investment into grassroots academies, television rights, transfer deals for overseas players and investment in clubs abroad.
More broadly, Beijing is aiming to grow the domestic sports market to 5 trillion yuan ($782 billion) by 2025, about five times its current scale.
China's biggest overseas investment in football so far occurred in December last year, when a consortium led by state-backed China Media Capital took a $400 million stake in the owner of Villa's far larger and wealthier rival, Manchester City.
The Villa deal, however, with 100 percent ownership, is not just an investment.
"The Chinese ownership now get to decide how to run the club," said Mark Dreyer, Beijing-based founder of sports information website China Sports Insider.
Crosstown arch-rivals Birmingham City are also run from Asia, following the 2009 takeover by Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung.
Villa's American owner Randy Lerner, who put the club on the market in 2014, struck the deal after former English champions Villa suffered a miserable season that left them relegated from the country's top football league.
Recon Group, Xia's privately owned holding company, owns a controlling interest in five publicly listed companies on the Hong Kong and Chinese stock exchanges.