Latest Chinese Super League transfer rules could force clubs to think twice before splashing the cash
Chinese Football Association asks for feedback by Sunday, with summer transfer window set to open on Monday
China’s transfer window swings open again on Monday, but the potential for Super League clubs to splash the cash on often over-priced foreign signings could further be limited by an updated proposal to introduce a transfer tax on all deals.
Officials from The Chinese Football Association (CFA) wrote to all 32 clubs in China’s top two divisions this week detailing the latest move to curb spending after a record-breaking pre-season, asking for their feedback by Sunday.
Any club seen to be in debt that spends more than 45 million yuan (HK$51.6m) on a foreign player, or 20 million yuan on a domestic signing, will have to pay the same amount to a football development foundation under the control of the CFA.
A club which spends less will still need to pay the registration fee, but it will be returned to be spent on their youth academy.
And to stop creative club officials trying to bypass the rules with loan signings, if the loan fee is less than the transfer fee paid initially by the parent club, clubs will be required to pay the appropriate registration fee based on the earlier transfer fee.
Officials are attempting to stop clubs from paying inflated transfer fees for players, which has the potential to force clubs further into debt as they try to compete with rivals.
The new proposal is expected to apply to the majority, if not all clubs in China, with league officials yet to implement similar rules regarding financial stability, which are now in place in Europe and are designed to rein in spending and stop clubs going heavily into debt.
Shanghai SIPG broke the Asian transfer record at the start of the season by signing Brazilian Oscar from English Premier League side Chelsea for a reported €60m (HK$525.1m).
Tianjin Quanjian were also linked with a record-breaking £77m (HK$773.7m) move for Chelsea’s Spanish striker Diego Costa, although this was denied by the Super League club.
But the rules also put further emphasis on youth development, with officials also tightening the regulations regarding under-23 players.
From 2018 a club will be allowed to register up to 25 Chinese players, which must include at least four under-23 players.
At least three of the under-23 players must be included in a matchday squad of 18, with at least one of those starting the match, as is the case this season.
But at any point during a match, the number of under-23 players must not be less than the number of foreign players, with a team limited to using up to three overseas players during a game as is the case this season.
This will stop the ridiculous scenes observed this season where teams had to start an under-23 player from the beginning of a match, but as highlighted mostly by Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas, that player was then withdrawn to be replaced by a more experienced player in some cases after just 15 minutes.
But it also could create other ridiculous situations as a team could be stopped from fielding their foreign players, to the detriment of the quality of the league, if some of their registered under-23 players are either suspended or injured.