BEIJING (Reuters) - After the frenzy of the transfer window saw big-name foreign stars land mega-money deals, the Chinese Super League kicked off its new season in an empty stadium as newly-promoted Guizhou Zhicheng were held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Liaoning Whowin.
While the world’s attention was captured by clubs luring Carlos Tevez and Oscar to China’s shores and other major names were linked to moves to the game’s latest Eldorado, Guizhou were forced to open the season without the backing of their fans.
The club had been handed the punishment at the end of last year after their final home game of the China League One season against Tianjin Quanjian ended in crowd trouble, with fans hurling debris onto the pitch and some entering the field of play in an attempt to confront the referee.
As a result, the Chinese Football Association decreed Guizhou should play their next home game in an empty stadium, ensuring the new Chinese Super League season would kick off devoid of atmosphere.
Guizhou issued a request on social media before the game for fans of the club to cheer on their team on television. For those who did tune in, there was disappointment in the 14th minute as Zambian veteran James Chamanga gave Liaoning the lead from the penalty spot.
Former Everton and Hull City striker Nikica Jelavic levelled the scores with a penalty of his own for Guizhou nine minutes into the second half.
But the home side were unable to find a winner, despite Liaoning playing the final 25 minutes with only 10 men after goalkeeper Shi Xiaotan was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Authorities will hope there is more to attract attention on Saturday and Sunday, with big-spending Shanghai SIPG - coached by former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas and featuring Asian record signing Oscar - taking on Changchun Yatai.
Carlos Tevez’s Shanghai Shenhua meet last season’s runners-up Jiangsu Suning on Sunday as defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande, coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari, host rivals Beijing Guoan.
Reporting by Michael Church; editing by Andrew Roche