Chinese soccer club faces sudden death after promotion to Super League








BEIJING  |   2015-01-20 11:41:05


Chinese soccer club

faces sudden death

after promotion to Super League



By Wang Jimin and Zhou Kai



Chinese soccer club Chongqing Lifan faces possible dismissal after the club’s successful promotion to the Chinese Super League (CSL).

Chongqing Lifan, which finished atop the Chinese second tier league last season and will compete in the CSL next season, has been earlier this month sold to a new buyer, the Huaxia Guorui Soccer Club Corp. Ltd., but the takeover was not recognized by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) on Monday of January 19, citing the new buyer’s poor qualifications.

But the takeover has been ratified by related governmental departments and the club has been formally renamed as Chongqing Changsheng soccer club.

“According to CFA rules, the new buyer must be operating well for at least three years and can afford management of the soccer club, but Huaxia Guorui did not even do business in the past years, and Chongqing Lifan itself does not even know the details of the company,” a top official with the CFA said on Monday.

“If the club still wants to play in the CSL, it should be handed back to the former owner,” the official added.

The club’s former owner Chongqing-based Lifan Group, a privately-owned motorcycle producer, has been reported to be going through a hard time financially, which urged board chainman Yin Mingshan to sell the club he has been running for almost 15 years.

The transfer became a big surprise as Chinese soccer has been on a surge recently after years of crackdown on corruption and the CSL is attracting more and more attention from home investors with Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao club winning the Asian Champions League for the first time in 2013.

“Yin Mingshan held on for such a long time, but this time he decided to give up because Lifan Group’s got a financial problem and it will definitely cost enormously to run a CSL club right now in China,” said Gao Tianxiong, a soccer agent who’s been authorized by Yin to find the next buyer for the club.

It took Chongqing Lifan, a former CFA Cup winner, four seasons to climb back to the China’s premier league, but the big success did not bring happiness to the players and staff.

Wang Baoshan, the coach who led the team to the CSL, has been fired, but the successor has not been in place. The players are not paid and signing new contracts. They could not even train normally.

“Usually we have already started prep work for new seasons the same time in the past years, but this year we did nothing, no training schedule and no salary,” an unnamed player complained.

“We never saw the new owner,” said the player.

The situation became even more confusing after Huaxia Guorui said they already proved their financial strength to the CFA with sufficient documents. The company said it also sent representatives to the CFA for negotiation, but CFA officials did not want to talk with them.

“Huaxia Guorui now owns the soccer club. Why should we give it back to Lifan Group? We will appeal to the Chinese General Administration of State Sports,” said a Huaxia Guorui official surnamed Wang.









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