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Would you want to play in China?

Would you want to play in China?

You often hear professional footballers speak about how they want to play in the English Premier League, or Italy’s Serie A, or even in the Spanish La Liga, but you don’t hear many say…. I can’t wait to play in the Chinese Super League, do you?

Well how likely is that to change?  I’ll let you decide that, but the Chinese Super league must be surely enhanced if the likes of Wayne Rooney or John Terry decide to go and play in it, mustn’t it?

We all remember former national team boss Sven-Goran Eriksson don’t we? Well, despite ending an unproductive spell in China when managing Shenzhen FC, Sven has come out over the past few days and said to reporters "I haven’t spoken to Rooney for a long time, so I don’t know what he is thinking, but if he went to China I think he would have a ­positive experience. He has a young family but there are international schools in the big cities and I know for sure he would have every help possible to make him settle. He would be made very welcome."

However, last week saw the introduction of a new tax rule by the Chinese Football Association. After years of big-name signings such as Carlos Tevez, Oscar and Hulk joining clubs within in the league and therefore making millions, the new ruling known by many as a new “100 per cent tax” in China has threatened to block mega-moves for the likes of Wayne Rooney or John Terry.  So, what’s the reason for this?

The CFA want to crack down on the number of foreigners joining clubs in the Far East as they believe it is impacting on the rise of homegrown Chinese players. This is especially important considering their bid to host the 2030 World Cup.  As well as this, before the season got underway, the CFA announced a limit on a maximum five foreign players allowed in a matchday squad, with the national governing body determined to improve China’s ranking of 81st ahead of their bid for the 2030 World Cup.

The new ruling took effect from 19th June, and will result in clubs effectively having to pay double the price if they are not posting profits. Clubs will have to pay the exact transfer fee into a fund that helps the development of young Chinese players if they are posting losses each year, as well as to clubs when purchasing such players.

"Clubs signing players through capital expenditure will be charged the same amount, with the full sum going to the Chinese Football Development Foundation, to train young players, promote social football and soccer charity activities,” a CFA statement read.

So, what does this mean? Well, we have all read that Diego Costa’s future at Chelsea looks bleak, as this was a player in January being linked with a move to Tianjin Quanjian. The fee was rumoured to be around £90 million, but with this new tax ruling, Tianjin would now have to pay £180m for the forward if Chelsea still demanded the same fee. That perhaps explains why he’s only now being linked with a move back to Spain, as that’s a lot of money and a figure too high for Tianjin Quanjian and all Chinese clubs.

Wayne Rooney may be allowed to leave on a free transfer as a way of Manchester United saying thanks for the great 12 years service he has given them, especially if he decided he wanted to go to China and John Terry has been released, so this new tax ruling perhaps wouldn’t have such an impact on either individual, would it?

Money is spent in the Chinese Super League, but despite this, the top European leagues are still far ahead and no amount of money is going to change that in a hurry. The aim of the CFA is for better local talent to be produced, stars to be born and interest in such players to come from all the top European leagues. That isn’t going to happen over-night and what’s most disappointing to see is that recent stars such as Sun Jihai or Fan Zhiyi have retired, yet ready-made replacements haven’t been evident.  New talent capable of making it in the Premier League hasn’t taken over them, such ability isn’t here, there and everywhere. That’s perhaps what is putting the likes of Wayne Rooney or John Terry off playing in China and to be fair, you can see why they would think like this. China would love to have a league like the Premiership or even The Championship, but that’s going to take lots of time, money and effort, isn’t it?

This new ruling may also impact on non-Chinese players leaving clubs in China.  Spurs fans will remember Brazilian midfielder Paulinho? He struggled in England, and so left to join Guangzhou Evergrande and Brazilian Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2015 after just 45 appearances. However, his performances have improved and he is now being linked with a move to Barcelona. However, the midfielder's proposed move to Barcelona may not happen unless Guangzhou Evergrande get a ridiculous fee (or his release clause is met) as the Chinese Super League's new transfer regulations make it too expensive to find a replacement.

So, would Chelsea fans wish John Terry all the best if he moved to China? Of course, most would, and most Manchester United fans would say the same to Wayne if he left Old Trafford and went to China, but unless players like that are available on the cheap, you can’t expect many players leaving England for big fees and going to China, can you? Saying that, maybe if this new ruling does help improve Chinese football and the Chinese national team, maybe the FA would look to bring in similar changes to rules and regulations in this country? Ha-ha, that will never happen, but it would be very interesting if they did wouldn’t it!!


Daniel Scattergood