Beijing, May 23 (IANS) The Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced on Saturday that 11 clubs have been disqualified from professional leagues due to wage arrears, while five clubs, including last season's Chinese Super League (CSL) side Tianjin Tianhai, have withdrawn from professional football.
The 11 clubs include four who competed in the second-tier last year and seven from the third-division, reports Xinhua news agency. "The clubs had wage arrears and couldn't resolve it, and therefore are being disqualified from professional leagues," noted the CFA.
Five more clubs withdrew from their respective leagues, all reportedly struggling with financial difficulties, including Tianjin Tianhai which said "the club's financial situation could not support its operation, and the club decided to dissolve" on May 12.
CFA president Chen Xuyuan has voiced his concerns on the financial sustainability of professional clubs several times since his inauguration last year. "Our clubs can barely achieve sustainable development. The owners have invested a lot but earn little back, and this could be detrimental to Chinese football."
"We hoped that clubs at all levels could pay attention to long-term planning and rational management, so they can protect the legitimate rights and interests of players, coaches and staff, and therefore promote professional football to achieve sustainable development," the Chinese football governing body noted in the announcement.
According to the CFA, the number of teams competing in the 2020 CSL season will remain at 16, with Shenzhen FC, who were relegated last season, filling in the vacancy left by Tianjin Tianhai. The second-tier will expand from 16 to 18 teams.
It still remains unknown when the postponed 2020 season, which was originally scheduled to kick off on February 22, will start.