Chinese state media warns big-spending football clubs to stop ‘burning money’
Transfer madness is unsustainable says People’s Daily in latest sign that government is seriously concerned
Chinese state newspaper The People’s Daily carried another lengthy editorial warning Chinese Super League clubs to stop “burning money” on Monday in the latest sign that the government is seriously worried by out-of-control transfer spending on foreign players.
China’s clubs have shocked world football over the past year by spending ever more incredible amounts to lure players, with the spending ramping up again this month as the transfer window reopened.
Argentine international Carlos Tevez is reportedly being paid as much as €800,000 per week after signing for Shanghai Shenhua, while Brazilian Oscar is reportedly getting €500,000 per week across town at Shanghai SIPG after his €60 million move from Chelsea saw China smash the Asian transfer record for the sixth time in less than a year.
And superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been linked with barely credible bids from Chinese clubs of up to €300 million for their services.
But in recent weeks there have been increasing signs that the authorities are determined to rein in the wild spending.
In December The People’s Daily – seen as a bellwether of government opinion – warned clubs not to “mortgage their future”. Clubs have since been told of a plan to restrict the number of foreign players, while the General Administration of Sport said last week that the government would “regulate and restrain high-priced signings, and make reasonable restrictions on players’ high incomes”.
On Monday, the state paper warned that “burning money” was not the way to improve football in the country as it railed against a transfer “arms race” and said teams were more concerned with hyping their own names rather than helping the development of Chinese football.
“Moderate introduction of foreign players ... is good,” said the editorial, “moderately increasing investment to enhance the club’s image and the football market is good.” But the “crazy” spending will lead people to ask “is this to deliberately hype themselves or to genuinely develop football?”
If clubs “only know how to spend money and not make it ... relying on this ‘burning money’ mode to maintain operations, how can they become a ‘hundred years’ club?”
The language echoed the comments from an unnamed spokesman published on the website of China’s General Administration of Sport last Friday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded the country become a global soccer power, while the nation’s sport economy has been “predicted” to grow massively over the next 10 years, prompting huge investment in football and sport from unrelated businesses.
Meanwhile, Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas hit back at critics who have suggested Oscar, at 25, was wasting the best years of his career by moving to China. English Premier League managers Arsene Wenger and Oscar’s former boss at Chelsea Antonio Conte were among those to have expressed such views when his transfer was confirmed.
“Everyone has their own work to consider,”said former Chelsea and Tottenham manager Villas-Boas Sina reported. “For these two coaches, they also want to protect their players, don’t want to lose their players lost, because we see the Chinese football market getting stronger and attracting some European top-line players.”
Wenger said China’s big-spending, exemplified by the Oscar deal, was a “distortion”, while Conte said China was “a danger” to every team in the world.
Villas-Boas said the growth of China’s football market would mean “the two coaches are a little bit worried,to publish such remarks. I respect their concerns, these are normal.
“For a 25-year-old like Oscar, and so talented, to come to the Super League should be said to be a very good thing, this is an affirmation for Chinese football.
“It’s a golden age of talented players coming directly to China and Chinese football should be full of gratitude.”