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​No Costa? No Rooney? Chinese Super League rule change could have huge impact on European transfer window

The Chinese FA has implemented a restriction on Chinese Super League clubs buying foreign players. The rule now means that clubs, which are shown to be in debt, will have to spend 100% tax on the transfer fee.

Courtesy of ESPN's Michael Church, the CFA released a statement that read: "To benefit the healthy and steady development of professional football leagues and curb the irrational spending on players, those clubs which are in the red should pay the same sums of money as they are spending on buying players to the Chinese Football Development Fund."

Rowan Simons, a writer on Chinese football, and also Chairman of China Club Football, the country's biggest grassroots football network, explains how the rule will work.

"If implemented in it's current form and based on the fact that all of the Chinese clubs lose money, then all future imports of foreign players will be subject to the 100% tax. So, in effect doubling the cost of player transfers.

"And the number's have been huge: So say with €60m with 100% tax, that becomes €120m."

This means, for example, the €60m Shanghai SIPG paid Chelsea for Oscar would in fact cost them – if they were in debt – €120m with the new rule in place.

Footballers plying their trade in Europe have flocked to the Far East in recent years – and not only in the twilight of their careers, as the aforementioned Oscar can attest.

According to Steve Price from The Guardian, the combination of just four transfers alone – Oscar, Carlos Tevez, Ramires and Jackson Martinez – cost a combined total of £175 million.

As well as the European clubs being rewarded with hefty transfer fee's, so too are the players with astronomical wages, with players like Tevez set to make £64m over two years.

However, that will all change soon according to Simons.

"(The rule) changes the dynamics of the professional league here in all kinds of ways - certainly in terms of investors ability to attract top players.

"I mean the sponsors, which have been attracted to the league because of the star players, the gate receipts which have been increasing, all can be impacted by this policy."

The tax will come into effect on June 16 when the Super League's transfer window opens, which is two weeks before the European windows opens.

The new regulations will undoubtedly have an effect have on the prospective moves of Chelsea's Diego Costa and Manchester United skipper Wayne Rooney.

28-year old Costa has been the subject of speculation linking him with a move to Tianjin Quanjin, where former Blues teammate Alexandre Pato and Axel Witsel currently play. Reports have suggested the Spaniard could earn himself around £25m-per-year.

Rooney is set to leave United after a 13-year stint and is being shown enticing offers from CSL clubs.

Not only will these moves be hard for economic reaons, the CFA has also tightened rules on the pitch. Now, the number of international players allowed in a club's squad will be lowered from five to four, and the number of foreigners in the starting XI must be the same as the number of players under 23.

"There's no doubt that it's a very blunt instrument from the authorities saying: 'this has got out of control," said Simmons.

"And there has to be now some redress, and there has to be now some curbing of this excessive money going towards international players when Chinese football really has yet to even get going at the grassroots level."

And if Simmons is correct, the era of Europe's biggest stars moving to China may have come to an end.

Andrew Maclean
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Andrew Maclean

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