February 9 – Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng have been kicked out of the AFC Champions League group stages for unpaid debts.
The Asian Football Confederation’s Entry Control Body took the decision to withdraw the club’s license and said Shandong’s place will be reallocated according to the AFC’s Entry Manual for competitions. The ban applies to this year’s competition only.
Shandong, who qualified by beating Jiangsu Suning in the Chinese FA Cup final, had been drawn in Group J against Hong Kong’s Kitchee, Thailand’s Port FC and a play-off winner.
Shandong boast Marouane Fellaini as their star overseas player. Chinese Super League champions Jiangsu Suning and twice Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande have qualified for the group phase of the competition. Beijing Guoan will also feature in the play-off rounds in mid-April to qualify for a group spot.
The group phase will begin in April and played in centralised venues that are still to be announced.
In its statement the AFC said: “It was determined that Shandong Luneng FC (CHN) had not satisfied the mandatory Criterion F.04 of the AFC Club Licensing Regulations (Edition 2016) concerning overdue payables and, accordingly, should not have been granted a licence.
“Shandong Luneng FC (CHN) has been declared ineligible to participate in the AFC Champions League 2021 and the available slot shall be reallocated in accordance with the Entry Manual for AFC Club Competitions.”
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