China resumes home-and-away soccer format

Beijing, Feb 7 (EFE).- The Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced Tuesday the return of the traditional home-and-away format for the next season of the Chinese Super League (CSL), after three years of the pandemic when matches were played in biosecure hubs owing to the strict ‘zero Covid’ policy enforced in the country.

The announcement was made during an executive meeting of clubs of the three professional leagues, the Super League, China League One and China League Two, according to multiple media sources.

The next season of China’s top-tier soccer league will begin mid-April, and fans are expected to throng the stands of their favorite teams for the first time since 2019.

On its part, the CFA released the deadline for the clubs to fulfill the economic requisites in order to formally register for the upcoming season, which will bring in the much needed ticket-window revenue for soccer to sustain itself in China.

This measure has been taken in light of the constant financial issues faced by Chinese clubs, which have led to the collapse of almost 30 professional teams over the past four years.

Moreover, the sports body also restructured the categories that divide the clubs based on age, doing away with the reserve league – which allowed suspended or injury-affected players to play – replacing it with an age-group league limited to players below 21 years of age.

They participate in the under-21 league, similar to Italy’s Primavera tournament, with the difference that the champion could ascend to the third-tier competition, League Two, just like Spanish youth clubs.

The rule that mandates that each team must have four under-21 players – who have also been associated with the CFA for at least four years – is the main reason behind the restructuring, apart from widening the soccer base to make its development sustainable at the national level.

The 2023 season will see the club Wuhan Three Towns, coached by the Spaniard Pedro Morilla, trying to defend the title.

Guangzhou FC, whch dominated the past decade with eight titles to its name, will no longer feature in the title race, having been relegated from last edition of the Super League. EFE


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