Debt-laden China clubs to face 100% levy on signings

Oscar became the most expensive signing by a Chinese team after Shanghai SIPG paid Chelsea almost $93 million for him.
Oscar became the most expensive signing by a Chinese team after Shanghai SIPG paid Chelsea almost $93 million for him.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HONG KONG • China's top football clubs have until Sunday to respond to plans to introduce a transfer levy in an attempt to curb spiralling expenditure on overseas players.

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) wrote to all 32 clubs in the nation's top two divisions on Wednesday, outlining details of the proposed "player-transfer leverage fee", which is due to come into effect when the Chinese Super League's transfer window opens on Monday.

Clubs deemed to be in debt that spend 45 million yuan (S$9.12 million) or more on foreign imports - or 20 million yuan on domestic signings - will be forced to pay an equivalent amount in a levy that will be invested in youth development programmes.

Affected clubs are those in the red based on accounts lodged with the CFA for the year ending 2016 .

Restrictions will also be put in place for players who join clubs on loan.

The CFA hopes the action will deter clubs from paying inflated fees for overseas stars and potentially jeopardising clubs' stability.

The Asian transfer record has been broken three times in the last 18 months by Chinese clubs. The benchmark stands at €60 million (S$92.47 million), reportedly paid by Shanghai SIPG to Chelsea for Brazilian star Oscar last year.

Top foreign players - including England-based strikers Wayne Rooney and Diego Costa - continue to be linked with Chinese clubs.

But there are also concerns over the amounts being spent on domestic players, with Manuel Pellegrini's Hebei China Fortune FC breaking the Chinese transfer record in the winter window when signing Zhang Chengdong from Beijing Guoan for €20 million.

The levy proposal, outlined in principle last month, has been established to "limit clubs chasing short-term results and over-spending on buying new players, to regulate transfer activities both in the domestic and foreign market (and) to build a healthy environment for Chinese football," the CFA said.

It comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping met Fifa president Gianni Infantino, with the former expressing hope that the Asian nation could host a World Cup "in the future". Speculation has grown that China wants to launch a bid for either the 2030 or 2034 editions.

The Chinese are all but certain to miss out on qualifying for next year's tournament in Russia after a 2-2 draw with Syria on Tuesday left them rooted at the bottom of Group A with two games remaining.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2017, with the headline 'Debt-laden China clubs to face 100% levy on signings'. Print Edition | Subscribe