Espanyol's Chinese owners staying for 'long term'

Espanyol's Chinese owners Rastar Group have a long term commitment to the Liga club despite reports a poor first campaign had given them cold feet, the president of the Barcelona-based insisted in an interview published Sunday.

"I firmly believe that this project is worth all the efforts which the group is carrying out and I will maintain this bet," the Espanyol and Rastar Group president, Chen Yansheng, told Barcelona-based daily newspaper La Vanguardia.

"I understand that there is speculation depending on how the club is doing, but that has nothing to do with reality. Our commitment is firm and for the long term."

Chen's Rastar Group, which specialises in model cars, completed its takeover of a controling stake in Espanyol in January 2016. It currently owns 99.25 percent of the club.

Espanyol, which has perennially been overshadowed by city rivals FC Barcelona, hired new managers after it finished 11th place in the Spanish league last season.

When Chen took over the club in 2016 he said he wanted Espanyol to compete in the Champions League "within three years" but when asked about this goal by La Vanguardia he said his company had "underestimated the competitiveness of La Liga".

"We always knew that it is at the top world level, but the internal competition is greater than we imagined. All teams are well prepared," he added.

Espanyol has never played in the Champions League. They twice reached the final of the UEFA Cup, the current Europa League, losing on both occasions in a penalty shootout.