Chinese Super League clubs forced to rename as CFA orders end to ‘corporate’ branding

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December 4 – Chinese Super League clubs have been ordered to drop the corporate part of their names for the start of next season by the Chinese FA.

The demand will affect 10 clubs in the 16 team league including new Jiangsu Suning (Suning is a retail giant), double Asian Champions League winners Guangzhou Evergrande (Evergrande is one of China’s largest property developers), and Shanghai SIPG (SIPG is Shanghai International Port Group).

The CFA has ordered clubs to drop references to investors and the companies that own them, and instead adopt “neutral” names.

Most of the clubs are still funded primarily by their owners who see some marketing value for their investment by attaching their company names to club name. It is unlikely that owners will look to seel their club ownerships, but it may reduce their on-going financial commitment if they are unable to justify the costs commercially and have to write football off as a philanthropic expense.

Chinese football began a process of reform in 2015 with the name changes always identified as part of the process. The clubs had been in dialogue with the CFA in attempts to get the directive overturned.

For the clubs it is case of finding a new name and rebranding their activities. Fans appear to be split on whether this is a good thing or not. A number of clubs have said they will go to their fan bases to allow them to vote for the new club name.

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