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The Great Fall of China: Why Super League controversy is not a surprise

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Thirteen of the sixteen Chinese Super League clubs could be forced to forfeit the league next year, due to not being able to pay players on time unless they send the appropriate documentation to the authorities by 15th August.

The Super League had caused plenty of concern for Europe's big boys - as it had threatened to do the same thing they had been doing for 20 years, create a monopoly and beat smaller clubs into submission through financial firepower alone. 

It's no surprise the league is in crisis - it was never going to work in the long term.

The league's clubs attempted to grow by throwing a bucketload of money at foreign stars, but football has shown that on the whole, this doesn't work.

Real Madrid have only just started to get back to the dominance they showed in the pre-Galacticos era, 17 years after Florentino Perez first became President. Throwing money at players willy nilly took the club backwards.

Manchester City have won two Premier Leagues and an FA Cup since the takeover of 2008. But they are nowhere near from the level of dominance of the 1970s/80s Liverpool side, Fergie's Manchester United of the 90s, Arsenal under Wenger at the turn of the millennium or Mourinho's first Chelsea side. Even so, Chelsea under Abramovich are never more than half a season away from crisis. 

In 2011, Russia's Anzhi in the war-torn Dagestan region were able to sign a host of stars and pay Samuel Eto'o a world record £360,000 a week; by 2014, they had been relegated from the top flight.

Malaga and Getafe in Spain had rich owners, it didn't do much. Monaco have only been able to get success by scaling back and thinking long term. Their formula is an increasingly interesting one. 

China throwing money at the league will not work, a long term plan is needed. In the US, the MLS has a long term strategy, they are willing to spend huge amounts of money on the odd player here and there, but there are salary caps, a limit of the amount of "designated players" each team can have and a draft system to keep things competitive.

Above: Players like Oscar have been attracted to China for financial reasons, but no long-term plan seems to be in place for the league.

They are looking at creating a demographic shift, where more and more Americans tune into watching MLS and thus spend more money and increase the reputation of the league. More exposure, a greater footballing culture, and more players would want to come to test themselves out in the league. They'd feel more at home too.

In China, this doesn't happen, the clubs are building groups of individuals rather than teams, players mainly there for the money, not for football or the challenge. It's like a retirement home. These players will get bored and want to leave eventually, 2016 singings Jackson Martinez and Alex Teixeira have already been heavily linked with departures.

They're bored, and of course, they would be. The thing is a joke. The players who have arrived on salaries of over £300,000 per week are there for a payday in a country with no real footballing culture yet.

What China needed was a long term plan: improve the quality of the league and homegrown players. The authorities have already reduced the number of foreign players allowed and goalkeepers must be Chinese. With a strong Chinese football team with good exciting players, the league's standard would improve and then naturally, they can attract stars who would be motivated and want a quirky new challenge.

Throwing money at a league as China have is short term-ism and unsustainable. This news is a symptom of that and it's one Chinese football needs to learn from. 




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