March 30 – Four weeks after announcing they were ceasing operations, defending champions Jiangsu FC have been formally kicked out of the Chinese Super League, the latest confirmation that the financial gravy train to China for world stars in the latter stages of their careers is over.
Jiangsu, who won their first-ever league title last year, has yet to officially disband but owners Suning, the retail giant that also owns Inter Milan, have failed to find new investors to take over the struggling club.
Suning had reportedly tried for six months to sell Jiangsu, which has debts estimated to be around $90 million.
Earlier this month, Jiangsu withdrew from the Asian Champions League and the club’s demise underlines the growing financial problems in Chinese football, which just a few years ago had built a reputation for splashing the cash on a spate of famous foreign players.
Jiangsu will be replaced in the CSL by Cangzhou Mighty Lions.
Five other teams have also been axed by the Chinese Football Association, all of them in the second or third divisions. They are Beijing Renhe, who played in the top flight in 2019, Taizhou Yuanda, Inner Mongolia Zhongyou, Jiangsu Yancheng and Shenzhen Bogang.
That means Cangzhou Mighty Lions, who were previously known as Shijiazhuang Everbright and were relegated last season to the second division, have been given a reprieve and will play in the top flight this year.
The collapse of Jiangsu underlines the extent to which Chinese football at elite level has been punching above its weight and represents considerable embarrassment for football-supporting Chinese president Xi Jinping in terms of his vision for the domestic game as well as its international status.
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