The chief executive of French sports marketing giant Lagardere Sports and Entertainment, Andrew Georgiou, has said that in time the Chinese Super League could in time become the biggest in the world.
Speaking to AFP, the marketing boss predicted the competition could even come to rival the popular English Premier League.
"There is no doubt in my mind that at some point in time, the Chinese Super League will become as big if not bigger than any other league in the world," he told the news agency on Friday (6 January)
"The only uncertainty in my mind is how long that will take. Because fundamentally, the market will be able to support the best players in the world playing the best football in the world in China."
Due to new government policies designed to foster the growth of the football industry in China, the country has been heavily investing in grassroots games, and has also hit the headlines in recent weeks for snapping up big names like Carlos Tevez, who joined Shanghai Shenhua FC in December.
"What Europe has at the moment is the prestige of playing in Europe, playing in well-established clubs, great brands that mean so much to the world," said Georgiou.
"That'll take longer to develop in China. It's not a function of if, it's a function of when."
Brands such as Adidas have also been investing in the region, with football expected to serve as a key driver of growth for the sports behemoth there. Just this week the firm agreed partnerships with two Chinese athletes in order to pace the way for a major retail expansion into the region.
In February, the managing director of Adidas’ China operations, Colin Currie, said said the business was looking to capitalise on the surging popularity of football in China.
In 2016, Sky Sports secured the rights to the Chinese Super League in an exclusive three-year partnership.