Football: Top Chinese clubs pay debts after expulsion threat

Shanghai (AFP) - Ten Chinese Super League clubs say they have paid off debts related to player wages, bonuses and transfers after 13 of them were threatened with expulsion.

Shanghai Shenhua, who signed Argentine striker Carlos Tevez in January on what is believed to be one of the highest wages in world football, and Oscar's Shanghai SIPG are among the top-tier clubs who say their books are now clean.

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) said in a statement published by one team that the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had asked 18 top flight and lower league clubs on July 11 to clear their debts by an August 15 deadline.

The teams were warned that they could be banned from all AFC matches and next season's Chinese league if they failed to send proof of payment by then.

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As of Wednesday, 10 CSL clubs including Paulinho's Guangzhou Evergrande, big-spending Shanghai SIPG and Shenhua said they had cleared their books of debt.

The CSL has 16 teams and only three had not been sent a debt notice.

The debt situation of three other clubs - Fabio Cannavaro's Tianjin Quanjian, Tianjin Teda and Liaoning Hongyun - was unclear.

Reigning CSL champions Evergrande said two of the payments involved were settled in December and January.

"We do not owe any back fees," the club said in a statement late on Tuesday on China's Twitter-like Weibo website, amid fears that mass expulsions could wreck the CSL, which has gained in international prominence after a series of big-name signings.

SIPG, who also shelled out on Oscar's Brazilian international team-mate Hulk for a similarly eye-watering sum, said they had paid the fees mentioned by AFC in October last year.

Shenhua said they have paid 90 per cent of the fees highlighted by the AFC but the rest was not settled because the other sides never supplied bank account numbers.

Shenhua's spokesman said the club have asked lawyers to make contact with the relevant parties about the rest of the payment and downplayed the issue as "a false alarm".

The three CSL clubs with no apparent debt are Henan Jianye, Yanbian Fude and Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng.