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Tianjin Tianhai folds, leaves Chinese Super League

Chinese Super League side Tianjin Tianhai has folded after failing to attract any buyer.

Trouble began for the 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) Tianjin Tianhai was eventually offered to investors for free but attracted no interest. There are also disputes hanging over the club with former coaches and players still seeking payouts.

At least a dozen clubs in China’s top three tiers of professional football have gone under in the last six months, but Tianjin are the first from the Chinese Super League (CSL) to have folded, AFP reports.

Formerly coached by Italian World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, the team from north China is set to be replaced in the country’s top division by Shenzhen FC from Guangdong province in the south of the country.

Situated next to Hong Kong, Shenzhen is home to a number of China’s internet and financial giants such as Huawei, Tencent and Ping An Insurance.

With the season stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic CSL clubs are under pressure to cut costs. The Chinese Football Association has proposed clubs reduce wages of players and coaches by at least 30 per cent because of the pandemic.

According to Chinese language website Sports Money, Dalian Pro is the first CSL club to announce its players have agreed to forgo their salaries for the month of May.