Chinese Super League season finally gets green light

BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 16: Team of Beijing Guoan celebrates after the goal scored during the Chinese Super League match against Shanghai Shenhua at Workers Stadium on March 16, 2012 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

The Chinese Football Association has announced the 2020 China Ping An Super League will start on July 25.

The CSL’s 2020 season should have kicked off on February 22 but was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

All league matches for the 2020 season will be played in Dalian and Suzhou behind closed doors and under strict epidemic containment measures, the CFA said.

The CFA had been seeking government approval for its Covid-19 containment measures for months and hired three medical experts to provide advice on starting the new season.

The CFA said the trio, which included epidemiologist Zhang Wenhong, the head of Shanghai’s Covid-19 clinical experts team, were producing an epidemic prevention guidebook for professional sports.

The enforced shutdown has had a significant influence financially on Chinese football clubs with a number in China’s top three tiers of professional football folding in the last six months, including CSL side Tianjin Tianhai.

Trouble began for the Tianjin club when its founder was arrested by the authorities in January last year and the club was transferred to the local sports bureau.

Burdened with substantial debt in the region of $145m (€134m) the club was eventually offered to investors for free but attracted no interest.