Sports News

Chinese football chief calls for further cuts to safeguard future

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese football clubs must implement further salary cuts to safeguard the future of the professional game in the country, the president of the Chinese Football Association has warned as he seeks to impose new controls on spending.

Chen Xuyuan, who took over as the head of the game’s governing body in China in August last year, called for financial prudence from clubs and said action would be taken ahead of next season to further limit the amounts players can earn.

“The leagues can only operate well under reasonable financial conditions, and I am certain that we will work out measures by the end of this year to further curb spending and reduce the players’ pay,” Chen said, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Chen has already overseen the introduction of a salary cap in January, which saw foreign players’ wages limited to a maximum of US$3.3m per year while local players had a ceiling of US$1.4m per annum imposed upon them.

Those moves were the latest in a series put in place by Chinese authorities in recent years to reduce the amounts being spent - primarily on high-profile foreign players - since the start of the country’s football boom earlier in the decade.

Predicated by president Xi Jinping’s desire to see China establish itself among the game’s elite, private enterprise in the country pumped significant sums into professional clubs in an attempt to raise the level of the domestic game.

And while successive new regulations, including imposing a 100 percent tax on transfer fees for foreign players in 2018, have managed to reduce spending significantly, Chen warned more needs to be done to make the local league viable.

“The major reason for their unsustainability is the overspending (of the clubs). This has to be changed,” he said.

“Otherwise, Chinese football leagues will not last long.”

Reporting by Michael Church; editing by Philippa Fletcher