Surprise! The Chinese Super League Is Completely Unsustainable

According to a recent audit, the CSL’s total club debt is over $600 million.

It turns out spending millions of dollars on manager Andre Villas-Boas and immediate want-aways Carlos Tevez and Jackson Martinez amounts to little more than burning money for the Chinese Super League. According to a recent audit by accounting firm PwC and as reported by Goal, the CSL’s clubs are currently in a combined debt of over $600 million.

While the league has made international noise by luring the likes of Oscar, Hulk and Alex Teixeira to the Far East by offering some of the largest contracts on the planet, the league’s long-term sustainability has always been called into question, even by the country’s own governing sports body.

CSL debt

In the 2016 winter transfer window, the CSL spent $296 million. This past window, that number increased to over $400 million, causing China’s ruling party to issue a warning against excessive spending. With nearly 80 percent of the clubs’ spending in 2016 going towards foreign coaches and players, a cap was put in place to “strengthen examination and supervision of clubs’ financial affairs, progressively control clubs’ expenditures on first-team players and ensure favorable financial conditions.”

According to the PwC report, CSL clubs, on average, only see 3 percent of their revenue from gate and matchday income while a meager 14 percent comes from TV and broadcasting. These numbers cast an uncertain future for the CSL, but this news comes just as Beijing Guoan have reportedly signed 25-year-old Brazilian Lucas Moura from PSG.

Maybe, in the end, money is no object for the CSL and this is all just fine — mod£rn football, baby!

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