Is the money mine or yours?
This thought could well be going on in the minds of Chinese Super League (CSL) football club owners, after a recent interview with a spokesperson of the General Administration of Sport of China.
In the interview transcript, the spokesperson said that the Chinese government will “regulate and restrain high-priced signings, and make reasonable restrictions on players’ high incomes”.
Describing the clubs’ extravagant spending as “burning money”, the spokesperson also said the government will “set the upper limit” for transfer fees and income, and control “irrational investment”. The goal is to build “clubs with longevity”.
The beginning of the end to trophy signings for Chinese clubs?
The CSL started in 2004 with 12 teams after a rebranding, before expanding to 16 sides in the current format.
Its 2017 campaign will begin in March and end in November.
In China where the government decides almost everything, including what to dream, it’s perhaps not surprising that it is now involved in regulating how private football clubs should spend money.
In a rush to support Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vision to transform China into a football superpower, Chinese clubs have broken the Asian transfer record four times in 2016 as they spent huge amounts of money to lure world-class footballers to the country.
Shanghai SIPG’s £52m acquisition of Oscar from Chelsea and Carlos Tevez’s £71m move to Shanghai Shenhua recently suggest the big spending will continue this year.
The latest government intervention will most likely spell the end of trophy signings for Chinese clubs.
Remember government interference in football was banned?
Well, this is football with Chinese characteristics.
But obviously, a few Chinese millionaires have not received the government memo yet.
— Mikel John Obi (@mikel_john_obi) January 6, 2017
Top photo from Getty Images.