The Chinese Football Association says it will not make any “exceptions” in teams being forced to adopt neutral names before the beginning of next season. The new rule has proved controversial with fans of China’s oldest professional teams, with five separate supporters groups uniting to ask the CFA for leniency on long-standing team names that include corporate sponsor names dating back to the 1990s. However, CFA president Chen Xuyuan was clear that there would be no leniency at Monday’s meeting to announce seven rules for the new “neutral” name policy. “The Football Association will not make an exception,” he said. Guangzhou R&F is the 1st CSL club posting in social media to collect corporate-free 'neutral' names from fan for their new club name. What could be Guangzhou R&F's new name? We have 3 Chinese-minded choices. Please leave your suggestions(brainstorm!) through tweeting this vote. — Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) December 1, 2020 “We have also noticed that many people say the name of the club should not be ‘one size fits all’ and whether the proposal can take into account historical elements. This feeling is understandable, but in terms of actual implementation, this cannot be the case.” Clubs now have until the end of the year to submit a name and until the end of February for it to be approved or they will not be able to register for next season. Chinese Super League tightens salary and spending rules The CFA said the club name could not exceed four Chinese characters, nor can it use non-Chinese characters. It may not contain company names or brand names for club owners or affiliated parties. Non-profits related to the owners are allowed, if approved by the CFA, while “the club should actively reflect the regional culture, historical customs, humanistic spirit or club management in the name”. The update to the rules appears to allow Shanghai Shenhua to keep their name. While Shenhua remains a company, it no longer has any affiliation with the CSL club or its owners, Greenland Group. No such relief has been granted to other teams and they are in the process of updating their names accordingly, with speculation rife as to what they might become before the end of the year. CFA officially published the corporate-free 'neutral name' rule: club name should not involve, or be associated with the company name of any club shareholder. As per the rule, only Shanghai Shenhua could keep the name. Clubs are asked to submit new name by the end of the year. pic.twitter.com/GxAhoHJLlV — Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) December 14, 2020 Jiangsu Suning Suning might mean “Jiangsu, Nanjing” – the “su” is from Jiangsu and the “ning” when Nanjing was known as Jiangning – but the owners are the company of the same name so it needs to be changed for the newly crowned 2020 champions. Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Officially known as Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, the club will have a new name imminently. Reports suggest this will be Guangzhou “dui” or team in Chinese, and Guangzhou FC in English. However, Chen has urged clubs to not overuse FC. The day Chinese football dyed is no laughing matter Beijing Sinobo Guoan FC The Guoan in the club name is not the direct owner any more, but the brand is still owned by Citic Group, which remains 36 per cent owners of the club. Sinobo Land bought 64 per cent from Citic in 2017. They have used Beijing FC in the last few seasons of the AFC Champions League, and on Sinobo’s own website, and are expected to follow that domestically. Shanghai SIPG Shanghai Shanghai International Port Group, to give them their full name, are rumoured to want to become Shanghai FC in English and its equivalent in Chinese. About the new corporate-free 'neutral name' rule, many Chinese clubs have applied 'XX FC' as the top option for their names, such as Guangzhou FC(Evergrande), Beijing FC(Guoan).Chen Xuyuan, the CFA president, said 'don't overuse FC, I believe we have our own football culture'. pic.twitter.com/53rcpouZGZ — Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) December 14, 2020 Shandong Luneng Taishan In dropping the Luneng to become Shandong Taishan, the club will meets the requirements. It is also a name that fans approve of, as it harks back to the club’s early days. “Taishan” means Mount Tai, the name of a local mountain. Chongqing Dangdai Lifan First called Chongqing Lifan in 2000, the name changed when owner Li Jizhang took over along with the Dangdai International Group. The Lifan literally refers to a “great sail”, the name of the original owners, who are reported to be sponsors. Rival Chinese football fans unite against ‘neutral’ name rule Shanghai Greenland Shenhua The club has been given a let-off by the CFA’s clarification of the rules. Original owners Shenhua left as early as 2001 but the club kept the name (“Flower of Shanghai”). They have been owned since 2014 by Greenland – and officially called Shanghai Greenland Shenhua – who will be dropped from the name. Hebei China Fortune Owned by China Fortune Land Development Company since 2015, the company quickly changed the club name accordingly. Known as Hebei Huaxia in Chinese, the latter is an ancient name for China, but it is part of the company’s official name. Almost all Chinese clubs have to change names in the upcoming weeks(as per CFA's attitude). Several clubs, including Guangzhou R&F, Shijiazhuang Everbright, Changchun Yatai, have posted in social media to collect suggestions from fans for their new corporate-free ’neutral names‘. pic.twitter.com/ZToI1yz7yD — Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) December 1, 2020 Henan Jianye Known as Henan Construction in English, the Jianye refers to the Henan Jianye Construction Group, which has owned the club since 1999. Their fans were among the five groups to appeal to the CFA. Jianye itself is another name for the ancient city of Jiankang. Tianjin Teda Supporters of the Tianjin side have been the most vocal in opposition to the rule, with Teda (Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area) backing the club since 1998. There have been suggestions that either Tianjin Tigers or North China, both historic names for the club, would appease fans, who have threatened to stop their support. Guangzhou Evergrande->Guangzhou FC? Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, a company listed in NEEQ(an over-the-counter market)(NEEQ:834338), publish a statement saying the company name will be changed from 'Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Holding Ltd' to 'Guangzhou Football Club Holding Ltd'. pic.twitter.com/LPRH6A19ES — Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) December 10, 2020 Guangzhou R&F Named after owners R&F Properties, which took over the club and renamed them in 2011, the club canvassed fans on social media for a possible new name. Suggestions included the Guangzhou Southern Tigers, Guangzhou FC and Guangzhou Roast Geese, after the local delicacy. Dalian Pro The first team to abide by the new rules did so before the start of the 2019 season, renaming to “Dalianren” (Dalian people) in Chinese and Dalian Pro in English. Some Chinese fans want to keep the club name with company name on it. Tianjin Teda fans today displayed the banner 'Teda is engraved into my heart. Why it has to be cut away?' Teda started to finance the club in 1998 and the club has been known as 'Tianjin Teda' since then. pic.twitter.com/OlU1syKMK3 — Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) December 12, 2020 Shenzhen FC Shenzhen City – “Shenzhenshi” – Football Club in Chinese, there is no mention of the Kaisa Group which owns it, though Chinese media have not declared it to be safe. Their English name is Shenzhen FC. Qingdao Huanghai The Huanghai means “Yellow sea” – where the port city is located – but Qingdao Huanghai Health Industry Group is a minority owner so the team name will have to be changed. The Tiger on the badge would be an easy option. Fans of 5 clubs (Shanghai Shenhua, Beijing Guoan, Henan Jianye, Tianjin Teda, Zhejiang Greentown) issued a joint declaration protesting against CFA's rigorous corporate-free 'neutral-name' rule. Fans want to keep the names, all of which have been unchanged since the 1990s. pic.twitter.com/Lu2x6WkS28 — Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) December 6, 2020 Wuhan Zall Majority owned by Wuhan Zall Development Company since 2011, the club will need to drop the company name. Changchun Yatai Newly promoted as China League One champions, the Changchun side are one of the old guard whose name stems from the 1990s. They will still have to change names as Yatai refers to the Jilin Yatai Group, which has funded the club since they founded it in 1996.