Across the world, the Chinese Super League makes headlines with its financial allure and ever-increasing acquisition of the world's most talented footballers. In this article, we will look at some of the most frequently asked questions that the rest of the footballing world asks about this exciting league.
What are its origins and when was the Chinese Super League founded?
The origins of the Chinese Super League began when the Chinese National Football Conference was formed in 1951. It was a round-robin where all 8 teams involved played each other in turn to determine who the overall winner was. There was only one league at this time, so teams couldn’t be relegated.
The competition was renamed the National Football League in 1954 and divided into two divisions in 1956. In 1957 promotion and relegation between the two tiers began.
Commercial sponsorship and investment in teams made its way into Chinese football during the 1980s and in 1987 the league began a semi-pro period, with a sponsorship deal coming from Goldlion Group.
The first ever home and away match season came in 1986 with seven teams altogether taking part. The league would then be named the National Football League Division 1 Group A for a short time before becoming the Jia-A and Jia-B leagues. The two groups merged in 1988 but divided again in 1989.
As part of a Chinese sports system reform project, the Chinese Jia-A League became the nation's first professional football league, in 1994. In the first few years, the new professional league enjoyed much success with Chinese football supporters. However, in the late ’90s the league came under heavy criticism due to bad management practices and lack of continuity in some key policies. During this same time period, the league was mired by gambling, match-fixing and corruption scandals, which led to the owners and sponsors abandoning the league.
On 1st January 2001, the vice-president of the Chinese Football Association, Yan Shiduo, talked about starting a new professional league system and in 2002 the Chinese Football Association made the decision to set up the Chinese Super League, which was subsequently was established in 2004.
The first ever CSL season was played in 2004 and has 12 teams participating in the league. During this season some controversy arose, which continues from the Jia-A League. Allegations of match-fixing resulted in low game attendance and huge financial loss during this first season.
How has the Chinese Super League evolved?
The Chinese Super League is a lot more demanding on participating teams than the Jia-A was.
A major difference between the CSL and the Jia-A is that the CSL has a lot more legislation in place. This is to ensure consistency in professional management, administration, finance and youth development programs. Criteria for each of the participating clubs was published in 2002 and has since been revised numerous times to ensure its policies are up to date with current developments both on a national and international level.
One of the goals of the league is to promote high-quality competition, as well as introduce advanced managerial concepts to the market by enforcing minimum standards of professionalism. It also aims to encourage an influx of more higher quality foreign coaches and players, eventually putting into place a European style system for player registrations and transfers.
Today, the league has started to attract some of the best footballing talents from all over the world such as Brazilian forwards Hulk and Oscar.
What are the most successful teams in the Chinese Super League?
As you can see Guangzhou Evergrande are the most successful team in the Chinese Super League’s history.
Guangzhou Evergrande, currently managed by the legendary former Italy international defender, Fabio Cannavaro have been in existence since 1954 and have played the leagues that predate the CSL.
Shanghai SIPG are the most recent champions and have the trio of Brazilian superstars, Hulk, Oscar and Elkeson spearheading their attack.
Who is the highest paid player in the Chinese Super League?
Former Chelsea forward Oscar is the highest paid player in the Chinese Super League. It is reported that he earns £400,000 a week, meaning that he’ll earn a whopping £20,800,000 in a year.
Other well-known footballers who have played in some of Europe’s top leagues are amongst the Chinese Super League’s top earner and these include Marouane Fellaini, Ezeqial Lavezzi, Graziano Pelle and Hulk.
How can you watch the Chinese Super League in the UK?
If you’re interested in following the Chinese Super League in the UK, games are shown on the paid subscription channel, Premier Sports. Of course, if you’re a super fan, you could fly over to China and watch a game in person. Now that would be an awesome experience!