Chinese Super League rule changes could drive prices up, says Beijing football journalist
By Allan Valente
Last Updated: 16/01/17 12:33pm
New rules limiting the number of foreign players in the Chinese Super League could drive prices up even further due to competition for squad spaces, according to a Beijing football journalist.
Clubs have spent large sums bringing Oscar, Carlos Tevez and Axel Witsel to China, with Sky sources also reporting Chelsea striker Diego Costa has become unsettled by a £30m-per-year offer from Tianjin Quanjian.
Previously, top level clubs in China could have five foreigners in their squad, one of whom had to be from an Asian-based country, but the Chinese Football Association has announced new rules, which will see only three foreign players allowed on the pitch at one time.
Mark Dreyer, a football journalist based in Beijing, told Sky Sports News HQ the new rules could have wide-ranging implications for foreign footballers, with some possibly ending up unavailable and on the sidelines, with already huge prices also being driven up due to fewer spaces available in squads.
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“If they still want to get Costa some teams still do have that fifth slot open for a foreigner and, of course, if you are Diego Costa you are probably going to make the top three foreigners in a Chinese team so perhaps not too many worries for him should that go through or one of the other top players,” Dreyer said.
“But suddenly you are going to have extra foreigners, some who have just been signed in the last few weeks who no longer have a place, not only in the team but not even in the matchday squad, so we might see some deals being reneged on, some contracts being cancelled and, again, there could be some law suits and other problems down the line.
“Fewer spots is just going to mean more competition for those spots and perhaps even higher prices because it is so competitive.”
New measures regarding the number of foreigners who could be used by clubs were set to come into effect in 2018 but will instead be implemented immediately, just six weeks before the start of the new season.
Dreyer says the move by the CFA comes after the Chinese government decided to intervene amid concerns over the lack of development for younger homegrown players, with a new rule about an U23 Chinese player having to start in each game also set to be implemented.
“The eye-catching headlines have definitely caught the notice of the Chinese government here," Dreyer said. "This definitely feels like something from on-high from the government level, not from the Chinese FA, from the CFA.
“They basically think this [spending] has got out of hand too quickly and I think you could very well argue that they are correct but the way that this has been enacted, I think, is going to lead to all sorts of troubles.
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“Particularly when people are in the middle of their transfer dealings and there are ways people are going to try to get around these rules as well so it is going to be a bit of a mess and people are very surprised about this.”
Dreyer believes Chinese officials are “very serious” about developing football in the country and says leaders have serious ambitions for the game.
“Chinese president Xi Jinping is known to be a big football fan and he has three goals for Chinese football: To qualify for the World Cup, to host the World Cup, and, one day, to win it,” he said.
“I don’t see that happening in my lifetime but it does give you a sense that China is very serious about football but they do realise that there are right ways and wrong ways and when all this money piles in and it is too much too soon, what is paying X millions of dollars, euros, pounds to players like Oscar and Tevez? How is that helping Chinese football?
“It didn’t really help the English football team when all these stars came to the Premier League so why wouldn’t the same thing happen in China?”