SHANGHAI (AFP) - Chinese football clubs look set to become the latest to cut player salaries as teams throughout world football attempt to offset the financial blow of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lionel Messi's Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus have both made similar moves, while Real Madrid players agreed to reduce their pay by as much as a fifth.
Players in the Chinese Super League (CSL), which has sprung to prominence by giving world-leading wages to foreign stars, were under growing pressure to follow suit.
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) said that following talks on Thursday (April 9) with clubs, those in the CSL and the two divisions below will thrash out terms for a "reasonable" reduction in pay.
The cuts will be backdated to March 1 and last until the new season begins. Latest reports say that will be late May at the earliest.
The CSL campaign was supposed to start on Feb 22 but was indefinitely postponed by the deadly coronavirus outbreak, which began in China late last year before spreading worldwide.
"Professional football clubs and investors generally face operational difficulties," the CFA said.
"The clubs' calls for a moderate reduction in their financial burdens and reasonable salary reductions are strong.
"The epidemic has also had a huge impact on the development of global football."
CSL clubs made headlines in recent years by luring big-name stars with eye-watering wages - Shanghai SIPG's Oscar is one of the top-earning players in football.
The Brazilian attacking midfielder reportedly earns nearly US$30 million (S$42.6 million) a year.
But the CFA has since brought in a number of measures to rein in spending and cool the Chinese transfer market.
"Regarding the issue of salary reductions, the Chinese Football Association also communicated with Fifa several times and received Fifa support," the CFA statement added.