In spite of the enormous amount of money spent by Premier League clubs over its duration, the January transfer window was not dominated by clubs from any of the game’s traditional European powerhouses. Where there were headlines to be written about it all, those headlines were all written by the clubs of the Chinese Super League, whose financial largesse may have sent a cold chill through the corridors of UEFA and the European Clubs Association, and whose new season starts in less than a month’s time and under greater scrutiny than it has ever seen before.
Over the course of the last ten days, the Chinese transfer record has been broken on three occasions, with Ramires, Jackson Martinez and Alex Teixeira all joining Chinese Super League clubs for a combined total of transfer fee of just over £94 million. And with more than two weeks until the Chinese transfer window closes, there s a strong possibility that we haven’t seen the end of the league’s sudden growth spurt just yet. Just this week, it was reported that the Barcelona defender Dani Alves has been offered £27m over three years by an as yet unnamed CSL club.
The Chinese Super League was formed in 2004, in the slipstream of the national football team’s first – and to date only – appearance in a World Cup finals. This appearance wasn’t particularly successful – the team failed to score in its three group matches prior to elimination – but the formation of the league was intended as a stepping stone towards greater success for the national team as well as attempting to move on from match-fixing scandals that had plagued its predecessor, the Jia-A, since its formation in 1994. As things turned out, these scandals would take a while to clear. As late as 2010, the CSL was beset by a scandal going right to the top of the CFA. The Chinese government took nationwide action against football gambling, match-fixing and corruption, which led to the demotion of two clubs, Guangzhou and Chengdu, and to the arrest of more than twenty officials, including the former head of the CFA.
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