Cowed Chi­nese foot­ball clubs de­sist in face of 100% levy

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Wayne Rooney led the big names linked with a move to China but in the end the only ar­rivals were striker An­thony Modeste and a cast mostly of free­bies, loa­nees and has-beens.

Ex­perts and in­sid­ers say a 100 per­cent tax on for­eign im­ports and be­fud­dling last­minute changes to Chi­nese trans­fer rules en­sured the trans­fer win­dow in the coun­try fiz­zled to a close on Fri­day.

A source close to talks to bring an English Pre­mier League star to China said that con­fu­sion over the rules had greatly com­pli­cated the move and ne­go­ti­a­tions even­tu­ally broke down. Chi­nese Su­per League (CSL) clubs shelled out record­break­ing sums in the win­ter trans­fer win­dow, herald­ing the ar­rival for 60 mil­lion eu­ros ($69 mil­lion) of Brazil­ian Os­car to Shang­hai SIPG.

Car­los Tevez joined Shang­hai Shen­hua on sim­i­larly world-lead­ing wages, while Bel­gian in­ter­na­tional Axel Wit­sel, Brazil­ian for­ward Alexan­dre Pato and the Nige­rian John Obi Mikel all left Euro­pean foot­ball for China on hand­some con­tracts.

But the Bei­jing gov­ern­ment and Chi­nese Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (CFA), fear­ing that do­mes­tic play­ers were be­ing squeezed out, in May pro­posed a pro­hib­i­tive rule that ev­ery time a club in debt spent on an im­port, they would have to pay the same amount again to a fund for de­vel­op­ing the lo­cal game.

Even as the sum­mer trans­fer win­dow opened on June 19, the CFA was tweak­ing its pol­icy, say­ing that the 100 per­cent levy would kick in on for­eign play­ers cost­ing more than 45 mil­lion yuan ($6.6 mil­lion, 5.8 mil­lion eu­ros) and Chi­nese over 20 mil­lion yuan. Tian­jin Quan­jian, strongly linked in the win­ter with Chelsea striker Diego Costa, seemed de­ter­mined to snare a for­ward. They got their man in French marks­man Modeste and ap­peared to get round the trans­fer rules by sign­ing him on what Ger­man daily Bild said was a two-year loan for about six mil­lion eu­ros, with an op­tion to buy for 29 mil­lion eu­ros.

Rooney left Manch­ester United but in­stead of China re­turned to Ever­ton, while Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang-also ru­moured to be off to China-re­mains at Borus­sia Dort­mund.

‘KILLED THE MAR­KET’

Si­mon Chad­wick, pro­fes­sor of sports en­ter­prise at Univer­sity of Sal­ford in Manch­ester, said the trans­fer tax and lim­its on the num­ber of for­eign play­ers to three a match “killed” the mar­ket. Chi­nese clubs were un­der heavy pres­sure from the gov­ern­ment-which has made im­prov­ing the na­tional side’s for­tunes a pri­or­ity and at the same time is con­cerned about cap­i­tal flight-to stop spend­ing on for­eign ta­lent, he said.

“Clubs have erred on the side of cau­tion and de­sisted from mak­ing the kind of high­pro­file, high-value sign­ings that we have seen over the last few years,” Chad­wick said.

“The state has ef­fec­tively spo­ken and when the (Chi­nese) state speaks, peo­ple in or­gan­i­sa­tions are ex­pected to lis­ten. “This trans­fer win­dow has been char­ac­terised by peo­ple mod­er­at­ing their ac­tiv­i­ties in re­sponse to state con­cerns about spi­ralling trans­fer val­ues.”

Aside from Modeste, Chi­nese clubs did lim­ited busi­ness dur­ing the four-week trans­fer win­dow, tak­ing play­ers on loan, for free or for rel­a­tively mea­gre fees. Jiangsu Sun­ing, man­aged by Ital­ian Fabio Capello, snapped up Cameroon for­ward Ben­jamin Moukandjo for a re­ported 5.5 mil­lion eu­rosjust avoid­ing the 100 per­cent charge.

CSL cham­pi­ons Guangzhou Ever­grande re-signed Brazil­ian jour­ney­man Muriqui on a free trans­fer but their best busi­ness was hold­ing on to mid­fielder Paulinho with Barcelona sniff­ing around.

Slove­nian in­ter­na­tional Kevin Kampl’s move from Ger­man side Bayer Lev­erkusen to Bei­jing Guoan fell through at the last minute af­ter the clubs failed to agree over terms of pay­ment. Chad­wick said that af­ter two con­trast­ing trans­fer win­dows in the win­ter and this time, Chi­nese foot­ball faced a ma­jor chal­lenge to iden­tify the mid­dle ground. “They’ve veered from ex­cess to aus­ter­ity in the space of one year,” he said. “So they’ve gone from a sit­u­a­tion where ev­ery­one was talk­ing about the Su­per League be­cause of the big-name sign­ings to a sit­u­a­tion where now no­body is talk­ing about it be­cause there are no big-name sign­ings.” —AFP

CLEVE­LAND: Nicaragua’s Bryan Gar­cia (R) tries to clear the ball away from USA’s Joe Corona dur­ing the first half of a CON­CA­CAF Gold Cup soc­cer match in Cleve­land, Ohio on Satur­day. — AFP

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