CSL’s fi­nan­cial prob­lems un­founded

The ru­mours of bans for lead­ing clubs are mis­placed

World Soccer - - World Service - JOHN DUERDEN

It is per­haps a mea­sure of just how far the Chi­nese Su­per League (CSL) has come that the com­pe­ti­tion is now able to make in­ter­na­tional head­lines even when its clubs are not rain­ing down un­told for­tunes on world-fa­mous play­ers.

In Bri­tain, there seemed to be some glee among the tabloid news­pa­pers as they an­nounced that 13 of the CSL’s 16 teams were in dan­ger of be­ing thrown out, with the Daily Mir­ror re­port­ing that all but three clubs could be “forced to for­feit their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the com­pe­ti­tion next sea­son af­ter fail­ing to pay their play­ers prop­erly”.

Ac­cord­ing to the pa­per, the dead­line to do so was Au­gust 15, and not meet­ing the dead­line would lead

Teams can sign five over­seas play­ers but only three can be in the match-day squad, so why add some­one to a for­eign con­tin­gent if they can’t play?

to the Chi­nese Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (CFA) tak­ing the most se­ri­ous of steps. Af­ter this, it did not take long for on­line ar­ti­cles to ap­pear with lists of CSL play­ers that could soon be head­ing to Premier League clubs on the cheap. It was, how­ever, all a lit­tle pre­ma­ture.

In July, the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion (AFC) wrote to all its mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions, in­struct­ing them to tell all their clubs to set­tle out­stand­ing debts on player trans­fers, bonuses and wages or face be­ing barred from en­try in the fol­low­ing edi­tion of the Asian Cham­pi­ons League.

An AFC state­ment read: “Clubs have un­til the last day of Au­gust to demon­strate that the over­due amounts have been fully set­tled, de­ferred by mu­tual agree­ment or are the sub­ject of a se­ri­ous com­plaint which has been sub­mit­ted to a com­pe­tent au­thor­ity.

“The move is in­tended to pro­mote fi­nan­cial dis­ci­pline among foot­ball clubs in Asia.”

Al­though the com­ments were not specif­i­cally tar­geted to­wards Chi­nese teams, for some rea­son the CFA seemed to be con­fused and it wrote to 18 clubs in three di­vi­sions and threat­ened them with ex­pul­sion from next year's league if they did not com­ply.

Ten of the 13 top-flight clubs were quick to pub­licly re­fute the pos­si­bil­ity. Shang­hai SIPG, who have been one of the big­gest spenders af­ter pay­ing over $100mil­lion in the space of six months on Brazil­ians Hulk and Os­car, an­nounced: “Af­ter ver­i­fi­ca­tion, we’ve al­ready paid the ar­rears in full in Oc­to­ber last year and we’ve sent the re­lated cer­tifi­cates to CFA.

“We hereby cer­tify that our club doesn’t have any ar­rears prob­lem.”

Guangzhou Ever­grande also made their feel­ings known, declar­ing that all was well in this re­gard with the reign­ing cham­pi­ons.

Mean­while, on the pitch, these two sides are lead­ing the way in a ti­tle race that is shap­ing up to be the best for some time, as Guangzhou go for a sev­enth suc­ces­sive cham­pi­onship and Shang­hai dream of a first. They also meet in the quar­ter-fi­nal of the Asian Cham­pi­ons League in Au­gust and Septem­ber.

There was lit­tle busi­ness done dur­ing the sum­mer trans­fer win­dow as most clubs al­ready have their full quota of for­eign play­ers. With the rules stat­ing that teams can sign five over­seas play­ers but only three can be named in their match-day squad, why add some­one to a for­eign con­tin­gent if they can’t play?

The ex­cep­tion were Tian­jin Quan­jian, who were pro­moted last sea­son and had been linked with Diego

Costa and Wayne Rooney. Rid­ing high in the league, Tian­jin tried to prise Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang from Borus­sia Dort­mund with­out suc­cess, so in­stead they signed An­thony Modeste from Cologne. But even with the French striker on board, Fabio Can­navaro’s side will prob­a­bly strug­gle to catch the top two.

Shang­hai man­aged to stay in sec­ond place de­spite an eight-game ban be­ing handed to Os­car af­ter he kicked the ball at two op­po­nents in June to spark a multi-per­son brawl.

As the mid­fielder was not even booked at the time, his sen­tence can only be de­scribed as dra­co­nian.

And when state­ments of sup­port from his coach An­dre Vil­las-Boas, Brazil­ian team-mate Hulk and lo­cal star Wu Lei cost them two-game bans each, it left some peo­ple won­der­ing whether the CFA sim­ply wanted to hand the ti­tle to Guangzhou.

Stars from Brazil...os­car (left) and hulk

Fa­mil­iar foes... Shang­hai Sipg’s elke­son (red) and Zhang lin­peng of guangzhou ever­grande will meet in the cham­pi­ons league

in­com­ing... An­thony modeste

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