Chinese Super League reveals guidelines for restart

(Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

The Chinese Football Association has drawn up guidelines to counter the Covid-19 threat as it eyes a late June or early July restart for the 2020 season of the Chinese Super League.

The league was originally scheduled to kick off on February 22, before it was halted.

The CFA’s procedures are designed to protect players, coaches and potentially fans, and will require government approval before the season can kick off. The association is said to have closely watched the restart of professional football in the South Korean K League and Germany’s Bundesliga as it formulated its measures.

CSL matches will be played behind closed doors. There will be no close contact during goal celebrations – this will be replaced by applause. Substitutes will be spaced out, at least one metre apart, and must wear masks. There will be no child mascots, team handshakes or group photos.

With many CSL clubs facing financial difficulties as a result of the virus-induced shutdown, the CFA earlier this month recommended the league consider salary cuts for players and coaches.

Shanghai Shenhua club general director Zhou Jun has said he would not try to hard to persuade his players to accept pay cuts. According to a China Daily report, Zhou said, “People should help each other, and the players who are grateful should have that sense…We will not impose the pay cuts. If a player refuses to cooperate when I talk with him about the salary reduction, I will not try any more persuasion.”

It is understood that the clubs are not able to unilaterally cut their players or coaches salaries – this would require prior agreement with the league.

Update: This story was updated on 21 May 2020 to make clear that the salary cuts proposed by the CFA were recommendations rather than enforced measures, and to add the information that clubs cannot unilaterally cut salaries.