The Chinese Football Association has drawn up a series of plans for a return of top-flight competition in the country.
The Chinese Super League was scheduled to start on February 22 but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have put together different options in preparation for a quick return of the new season under stringent safety guidelines,” said CFA president Chen Xuyuan during an interview with China Central Television.
“All matches will be played behind closed doors for the time being. But fans will be allowed to come into the stadium in a gradual manner,” he added.
The schedule means teams will play 30 rounds of matches in just four months, so wholesale changes are planned to the structure of the competition. The league will be split into two groups based on clubs’ league positions last season. Each group will play in a round-robin format and the top teams from the groups will advance to a knockout stage.
To lessen the economic burden caused by Covid-19, the Chinese FA has asked players to take up to a 50-per-cent reduction in salaries. The cost-saving measures will apply to all players, including highly-paid foreign stars. To give one such example, Belgian player Marouane Fellani has a contract worth $12.5m (€11.5m) per year after tax with Shandong Luneng.
“It would be unfair if only locals suffer a wage reduction, we have to build a new financial system and burst the current bubble, otherwise, there will be no future for Chinese football,” Chen said.