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Chinese Super League: Financial Meltdown Sees World’s Best Reel Out

This photo taken on June 18, 2017 shows a brawl between Shanghai SIPG players (in red) and Guangzhou R&F players (in blue), during their Chinese Super League football match in Guangzhou, in China's southern Guangdong province. Brazilian international Oscar triggered a mass brawl in the Chinese Super League as players and staff from his Shanghai SIPG side and opponents Guangzhou R&F scrapped on the pitch. / AFP PHOTO / STR / China OUT (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Financial meltdowns are never a good thing. Bubbles burst. It is a part of sports and politics that can see competitions regress when teams spend beyond their means to get the best talent in the world. In the past, we wrote about the Chinese Super League and how they have been luring many great players to China in order to improve the quality of the competition. Needless to say, the country’s financial situation revealed a chilling truth: signing the best players in the world can become a losing battle in the blink of an eye.

One reason for this: the stars are not being paid. A report stated that 13 different clubs across three divisions in China, including the biggest in Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, been accumulating heavy debts and were subject to a thorough review by the Chinese Football Association, with a resolution deadline scheduled for Aug. 15. This is the list.

Chinese Super League: Shanghai Shenhua, Shanghai SIPG, Beijing Guoan, Changchun Yatai, Chongqing Dangdai Lifan, Hebei China Fortune, Guangzhou Evergrande, Guangzhou R&F, Jiangsu Suning, Liaoning Whowin, Shandong Luneng Taishan, Tianjin Quanjian, Tianjin TEDA
League One: Beijing Renhe, Dalian Transcendence, Shanghai Shenxin, Shijiazhuang Ever Bright
League Two: Qingdao Jonoon

The clubs were forced to act quickly, and seven of the named sides were able to clear their debts: Yanbian Funde, Henan Jianye, Guizhou Zhicheng, Beijing Guoan, Shandong Luneng, and both Shanghai Shenhua and SIPG.

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“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,” said the Asian Football Confederation in a written statement. “The move is intended to promote financial discipline among football clubs in Asia.”

Another couple of new measures that have been put into place for this year’s CSL season to curtail irresponsible spending and hopefully prevent another similar crisis include a 100% tax on signing players from overseas which applies to clubs in the red, and reducing the number of overseas players on match day squads. In this aspect, China is emulating UEFA’s Financial Fair Play doctrine which moderates spending by big names in the European game.

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Still though, for a league that sees the likes of Graziano Pelle, Hulk, Oscar, Elkeson and Carlos Tevez grace its pitches, club football in China has been given a wake-up call in regards to managing its yuan responsibly and if the clubs named do not clean up their act, Aug. 15 could be a red-letter day in the People’s Republic. The now-disgraced Brazilian Kenedy, during Chelsea’s International Champions Cup run, made an Instagram post saying, “Wake up, China.” Perhaps he did have a point after all.

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