From requesting for Bale to auctioning team Bus

Chinese Super League

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During June 2016, many fans assembled at Shanghai airport to watch one of the most renowned
footballers in the world make the city his home.

A 29-year-old Brazilinternational named Hulk, at the top of his muscles, had been contracted by
Shanghai SIPG manager Sven-Goran Erikson for over £46m and would be paid
reported wages of £320,000 per week.

While he walkedthrough arrivals, a welcoming bunch of flowers was shoved into his arms and a
Shanghai SIPG scarf decorated over his neck.

In the next threeyears, he was connected by other big names, signed for even bigger price label.

Chelsea star Oscarcame six months after. The transfer amount was about £60m, while his wages were believed to be £400,000 per week.

A player who had wonthe premier league with Manchester United and City, named Carlos Tevez reportedly
earned even more when he joined.

Paris ST-Germain starEzequiel Lavezzi, Liverpool target Alex Teixeira and Colombia striker Jackson
Martinez were also brought in with excessive transfer fees and plentiful
pay cheques.

The increase of theSuper League came next to President Xi Jinping's aspiration to turn the
country into a footballing nation. In 2011, he made known plans for the
men's national team to qualify for a World Cup and for China to ultimately host
the competition.

While the ChineseSuper League started spending large sums of money, his aim to turn the nation
into a football super power began to look very genuine.

The Chinese market isa risk for all teams in the world, not only for Chelsea, said the Chelsea manager Antonio Conte at the time on seeing Oscar go to China.

China seems to havethe financial power to carry a whole European league to China - said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

Fewer than ten years on,although, and the movement is in the contrary direction, with the bubble stuffed and players going away.

Jack Sealy was not amongthe big-name entrants. The son of ex QPR striker Tony Sealy, who signed for
CSL's Changchun Yatai in December 2015.

Sealy, 28 when hearrived, had been playing in Hong Kong and was attracted to the Super League by
the big names, the bigger standard of football and the money that came with it.

I went out there as itwas yet developing so it was very thrilling to be around, he told the BBC.

Many had sort of heardabout it before but no one actually knew about it. And after that as soon as
you said to someone who knew football, they were like: Oh wow, you're moving to
the Super League.

I have no doubts aboutit at all. It was astonishing.

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Wonderful, but also odd.

You sort of have tojust wholly forget who they are, - he added of some of his big-name rivals.

I've made the move upor they made the step down, but you see it, and you just have to see them as colleagues
and try your best. But it was sweet weird.

Oscar - I've watchedhim play with Chelsea - and clearly from playing Fifa, you know all of the players.
It was attractive unbelievable.

In 2019, the leaguehad turned out to be so big that Real Madrid's Gareth Bale – formerly the most expensive player in the world - was listedfor a move to Jiangsu Suning on a three-year, 1m-a-week contract.

Fewer than two years after,Jiangsu Suning stopped operating with their financial situation so dire that
they even sold off the team's bus for cash.

How did the Chinesefootball prospect implode so outstandingly?

Items went downwardswhen China's Football Association, which had previously commenced a luxury
tax that made big-money transfers unaffordable lavish and barred sponsors
from naming teams after themselves, announced a salary cap in December 2020.

By the time, the CFAsaid it wished the step would curb money football and offer an investment fizz
in the Chinese national team.

For a while, China'ssport administration had been cautious of the league's expenditure. In 2017, it
swore to limit spending and control crazy investment, condemning clubs of burning
money and paying foreign players with too much salary.

The salary cap surelyhad the preferred effect. The limit meant overseas players would only be capable to earn a maximum of £52,000 a week, far lower than the contracts earlier given
to star names.

A number of teamsneeded such manacles having heaped up debts by their big spending.

A big number of clubs'plights were also made worse by their owners' growing problems in China' real estate sector with numerous home-building giants running into cash flow

On top of all, theCovid pandemic outbreak.

China's firmcontainment policies cut fixture lists and kept whichever games were staged
behind closed doors for over two years. Broadcast and sponsorship revenues suitably

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Defender SamirMemisevic from Bosnia-Herzegovina played for Hebei FC from February 2020 - but in
his second season at the club, might tell there were concerns behind the

In the second season,I felt that something was wrong,- hetold the BBC.

Following a few months, financial issues started. Then they had a big issue with the Chinese
players - they didn't pay them for a lot of months and I was certain that at
the end of that year Hebei would not be any more – he said.

Memisevic got andaccepted an proposal to go on loan to Beijing Guoan, one of the top clubs in
the league.

Hebei, who had signedLavezzi and ex Premier League regulars Javier Mascherano and Gervinho during the CSL's roar times, crumbed their youth teams in a anxious move to survive.

Few employees, placedon unpaid leave for months, volunteered to work for free as the club, owned
by a debt-ridden real estate company, fought back to pay its utility bills.

It was all useless.Earlier this year, Hebei scattered.

I just feel so sad forHebei and what occurred because they were one of the largest teams with packs of big names and money, - said Memisevic, who now plays for Al-Nasr in Dubai.

Now it's just gone.

It's actually sad butit's been a thing at a lot of Chinese clubs. I've observed that Guangzhou and
Wuhan are also vanishing. It's just actually sad.

I believe that Chinese football will get enhanced because they put a lot of money into it. But I don't
think it will be the equal like before.

For John Hassett, theChinese Super League will not be the same without his beloved team, Guangzhou
City. The club, which has been managed by Eriksson and former Arsenal and
Rangers star Giovanni van Bronckhorst in the past, also scattered in March.

Each home game,Hassett looked forward to meeting fellow fans and joining them to cheer on the

For many people, thesocial side was as vital as the football - he told the BBC.

We had this smalllittle shop outside the ground, so we'd drink there before and after the game.
It had also turned into the worry of the local Chinese fan group after the
game. It turned into quite a spot.

We were all heartbroken.We did a little wake for the club at our beer shop after it closed down. We met up with a couple of other groups and had a beer outside the stadium. It was
good enjoyment.

Some of the issue is that none of the clubs had set themselves up to make money.

Tickets are very low-priced.Our season ticket was £50 or £60. Some of the student groups were buying tickets lower than that. Majority of the people don't buy the official shirts,
they got them outside the stadium for £3.

Revenue generation forclubs is the largest problem the Super League will have. As the economy squeezed, where does the money come from?

Towards the end of lastyear, as the time to reopening stadiums to fans began, a new question was being asked; where has the money gone?

A corruption shame widened through the biggest offices of the domestic game.

Ex Everton midfielder and former-head coach of China's men's team, Li Tie, was investigated for grave breach of the law, with charges of bribery brought in August.

Chen Xuyuan, the Chinese Football Association's ex chairman, is undergoing likely accusations as
South Korea midfielder Son Jun-ho, who played for Shandong Taishan, has been under
arrest since May on distrust of admitting bribes.

Currently, only asmall amount of foreign players stay in the league. Those now playing in China,
both local and foreign players, did not react to interview requests from the

But in spite of the league's problems, there is still a order for domestic football.

Whilst tickets forBeijing Guoan's first match back in front of a crowd went on sale in April,
they sold out inside five minutes.

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Alberto Doldan, who has worked in China with La Liga and made deals in Asia as an agent, said that
the hostile acquirement of talent by top teams in Saudi Arabia now is suggestive
of the CSL's climax.

However he persistthat the Chinese league still has a potential, still if it is dissimilar from
the one that once looked likely.

Several teams in Chinahave gone due to financial troubles - hetold the BBC.

However I think thefuture will be improved because they've been working with young players. I believe
in the next five, six or seven years, we'll get more domestic players with a
higher level.

China is still a fineplace. I think the future is in the domestic players.

Currently with lesser,foreign superstars, the spotlight is on making more homegrown superstars to develop the league and progress China's forecast at the World Cup, a competition which,
on the men's area, they have qualified for only on one occasion.

But never did the Chinese league know that they will gofrom requesting for Bale to auctioning team Bus.
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