Ever­grande cel­e­brate Chi­nese league cham­pi­onship

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

CHI­NESE cham­pi­ons Guangzhou Ever­grande notched their record sixth league ti­tle in a row with a 4-0 de­mo­li­tion of Shan­dong Luneng, but an ex­pert warned their dom­i­nance risked dim­ming in­ter­est in the league.

Ever­grande, led by for­mer Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Sco­lari, whose con­tract was ex­tended af­ter the team sealed the ti­tle with two games to spare, were crowned in a lav­ish cer­e­mony in front of more than 42,000 fans at their Tianhe Sta­dium af­ter their fi­nal game on Oc­to­ber 30.

A slew of daz­zling big money signings this year by top clubs in the Chi­nese Su­per League (CSL), such as Shang­hai SIPG’s cap­ture of Brazil­ian for­ward Hulk for a re­ported 55 mil­lion euro (US$60 mil­lion), and Jiangsu Sun­ing’s 50 mil­lion euro ac­qui­si­tion of his com­pa­triot Alex Teix­eira, put a spot­light on the tour­na­ment.

Av­er­age crowds over the sea­son reached an all-time high of 24,171.

But Mark Dreyer, founder of China Sports In­sider, a website mon­i­tor­ing sport­ing trends in the coun­try, warned that Ever­grande’s record-break­ing run was bad for the league over­all.

“It’s a def­i­nite worry that Ever­grande are be­com­ing too dom­i­nant. There’s nu­mer­ous ex­am­ples where if you have any league in which one club is dom­i­nant it be­comes easy to dis­miss,” he said.

Given the lim­its on the num­ber of for­eign play­ers that clubs can have in their squad, other teams should con­cen­trate on longer-term de­vel­op­ment rather than sign­ing big names to chal­lenge Ever­grande, he said.

“I’d like to see the fo­cus shift to less glam­orous ar­eas like in­fra­struc­ture, youth team and so on, but that doesn’t get the head­lines like sign­ing [Graziano] Pelle does,” he said, ref­er­enc­ing Shan­dong Luneng’s cap­ture of the Ital­ian in­ter­na­tional striker in July.

Else­where in the CSL, Jiangsu Sun­ing fin­ished run­ners-up de­spite a 1-0 de­feat away to Liaon­ing, and Sven-Go­ran Eriks­son’s Shang­hai SIPG fin­ished third with a 3-1 vic­tory over He­bei China For­tune, man­aged by for­mer Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini.

Shang­hai Shen­hua went down 1-0 away to Changchun Yatai but fin­ished fourth, clinch­ing the last avail­able AFC Cham­pi­ons League spot for next sea­son.

Changchun’s vic­tory was their fourth in suc­ces­sion and saw them avoid rel­e­ga­tion from the 16-team league at the ex­pense of Hangzhou Green­town, who could only draw 2-2 with Yan­bian Funde.

Green­town, who had Tim Cahill on their books be­fore the Aus­tralian’s de­par­ture in July, ended their 10-year stay in the CSL to jeers and boos from the home fans, many of whom sobbed as the fi­nal whis­tle blew and news of Changchun’s vic­tory broke.

Shi­ji­azhuang Ever Bright were also rel­e­gated. –

Photo: EPA

Fans cheer Guangzhou Ever­grande dur­ing an AFC Cham­pi­ons League 2016 group stage match against Ja­pan’s Urawa Red Di­a­monds on April 5.

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