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New Policy in Chinese Football Allows Commercial Sponsorship in Team Names.

Roger Hampel


Chinese Football
Chinese Football

In a landmark decision, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) has announced a new policy allowing Chinese soccer clubs to incorporate commercial sponsors' names into their team names, marking a significant shift in the financial strategy of the domestic game. This move, effective from the 2024-2028 seasons, is aimed at stabilizing and invigorating the financial health of the clubs after several challenging seasons, particularly exacerbated by the pandemic.


A Positive Image and Strict Guidelines


Emphasizing the importance of a positive social image, the CFA mandates that sponsors must be legitimate enterprises or brands. The sponsorship names must use Chinese characters, adhering to a policy that excludes specific terms like 'corporation', 'company', and 'firm'. The move ensures that while clubs can leverage commercial partnerships, they do so in a way that aligns with the cultural and ethical standards set by the CFA.


Restrictions to Uphold Integrity


In an effort to maintain the integrity of the sport, the CFA has laid down clear boundaries. The names or homonyms of club shareholders are prohibited in the title sponsorship, as are names of gambling and tobacco enterprises. This policy underscores the CFA's commitment to preserving the sport's integrity and distancing it from potentially harmful associations.


Financial Revival and Regulation


The decision follows a period of financial struggles for many clubs in the Chinese professional leagues, with reports of wage issues and the disqualification of 44 clubs across three tiers due to financial constraints. By allowing title sponsorship, the CFA is creating avenues for clubs to rejuvenate their finances while ensuring that the club names still comply with existing regulations.


Impact on Club Identity and Competition


This policy reversal is a significant change from the CFA's 2020 ban on commercial sponsors in team names, which marked the end of a lavish spending era led by clubs like Guangzhou Evergrande. The new rules maintain the requirement for clubs to feature an administrative region and a chosen nickname in their titles, but now with the added financial support from title sponsors.


Relaxation of Rules on Foreign Players


In a related development, the CFA is also relaxing rules on foreign players. The upcoming season will see two transfer windows, allowing clubs to register up to seven foreign players, with up to five playing simultaneously – a change from the previous cap of four. This adjustment is seen as a strategy to enhance the competitiveness of Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs in international competitions like the AFC Champions League.


Source: China. org

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