March 30 – The Chinese Super League has suffered another blow after Guangzhou City announced they are suspending operations.
Having finished 15th in the league last time round, the former Asian champions will be conspicuous by their absence when the new season makes its expected return next month.
City were not included in a Chinese Football Association list issued on Wednesday detailing the 48 clubs eligible to play in the country’s three-tier professional set-up in the upcoming season.
Wuhan Yangtze and Hebei FC, who were both relegated from the CSL last year, were excluded, as were second-tier outfits Kunshan FC, Shaanxi Chang’an Athletic, Zibo Cuju, Beijing BSU and Xinjiang Tianshan Show Leopards.
City confirmed on social media that they would be folding, joining a growing list of clubs who have disbanded in recent years. Jiangsu FC disappeared just months after winning the 2020 CSL title.
Chinese clubs have attracted some of the sport’s leading talent including World Cup-winning coaches Marcello Lippi and Luiz Felipe Scolari, while also competing for elite players in the latter stages of their careers.
However, a crackdown by authorities on debt accumulation has caused widespread financial disruption while off the field the national federation has been rocked by a corruption scandal.
China’s president Xi Jinping had encouraged turning China into a global footballing superpower with ambition to host major events (pre-pandemic) but the men’s national team, which has qualified for only one World Cup in two decades, shows few signs of improvement while the domestic league has lurched from one crisis to another, partly as a result of unsustainable eye-watering salaries being paid to attract foreign talent.
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