CSL’s financial problems unfounded
The rumours of bans for leading clubs are misplaced
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