Chinese Super League

Guangzhou Evergrande to get HK$3 million per win in Champions League ahead of opening clash against Hong Kong’s Eastern

Chan Yuen-ting insists her players won’t be distracted as big-spending Chinese rivals flash the cash

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 2:26pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 10:30pm

Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao announced a massive bonus scheme for their players as they warned their Champions League opponents from Hong Kong, Eastern, that the team is targeting the quadruple.

Local champions Eastern kick off Hong Kong’s first ever full Champions League campaign next Wednesday across the Pearl River Delta in Guangzhou.

The big-spending Chinese Super League champions have announced a 300 million yuan (HK$338 million) bonus scheme for the coming season.

And Evergrande Group chairman Hui Ka-yan announced that he expected his team to win all four trophies available this year.

“Guangzhou Evergrande needs to be ambitious in the 2017 season, setting its sights on four titles, namely the Chinese Super League, Asian Champions League, CFA Cup and the Super Cup,” he told players, Xinhua reported.

“For the players in Evergrande, I want you to keep in mind that you’re all professional players, you need to have strict self-discipline in living, hard training on the pitch, make concerted and all-out efforts during matches and never lose your morale.”

Guangzhou’s players will share three million yuan for every win in the Champions League, while Guangzhou’s local government has pledged a further 50 million if they win the tournament.

Guangzhou have dominated the Chinese Super League in recent seasons and won the Champions League in 2013 and 2015, but flopped in last season’s continental competition, failing to make it out of the group stage.

A Hong Kong side has never before qualified for the group stage of the tournament and Eastern will be heavy underdogs in all their matches, not least in the opener in the 60,000-seat Tianhe Stadium next week.

Guangzhou and Eastern are in group G with Suwon Samsung Bluewings of South Korea and Kawasaki Frontale.

Coach Chan Yuen-ting, the first woman ever to lead a team in the Champions League, insisted her players wouldn’t be thinking about Guangzhou’s massive bonus scheme and that it might actually add to the pressure.

“Bonuses can be looked at in many ways,” she said. “It can also add pressure and we’ve seen in the past there have been teams with high bonuses that have been too eager and it’s affected their play.

“We’ll have our usual mindset of aiming to do our best and I don’t think our players will be affected by this at all.”

Tickets for Eastern’s home games at the 6,500-capacity Mong Kok Stadium went on sale on Tuesday morning and three-game packages had sold out by lunch time, though individual game tickets were still available.

Meanwhile, Evergrande’s Hui has warned that he is turning off the massive flow of cash from his property development company and said he wants a competitive all-Chinese team by 2020, falling in line with recent signals from the central government.

Guangzhou were among the first Chinese teams to splash big sums on foreign players but their biggest signing in the current transfer window has been Zhang Wenzhao from Shandong Luneng for a comparatively paltry 10 million yuan.

“In my view, the ideal all-Chinese squad for Evergrande is composed of a world top manager and all native players,” Hui said.

“We still have four years in the transition process. Meanwhile the all-Chinese lineup for Evergrande should be capable of winning titles, retaining the status quo,” said Hui. “Our purpose... is to contribute to the development of Chinese football and all our work needs to be focused on this.

“Our revenue comes mainly from ticket sales, which are not good enough to cover our expenses, and we have to run the club as a business. We need to increase our earnings through player exchanges and build up the team through developing young players instead of buying.”