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Chinese Super League
Chinese Super League.svg
Founded 2004; 20 years ago (2004)
Country China
Confederation AFC
Number of teams 16
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to China League One
Domestic cup(s) Chinese FA Cup
Chinese FA Super Cup
International cup(s) AFC Champions League Elite (1st tier)
AFC Champions League Two (2nd tier)
Current champions Shanghai Port
(2023)
Most championships Guangzhou (8 titles)
Most appearances Wang Song (393 games)
Top goalscorer Wu Lei (146 goals)
TV partners CCTV
Migu
Chinese Super League
Chinese Super League
Simplified Chinese 中国足球协会超级联赛
Traditional Chinese 中國足球協會超級聯賽

The Chinese Football Association Super League (Chinese: 中国足球协会超级联赛; pinyin: Zhōngguó Zúqiú Xiéhuì Chāojí Liánsài), commonly known as the Chinese Super League or the CSL, currently known as the China Resources C'estbon Chinese Football Association Super League for sponsorship reasons, is the highest tier of professional football in China, operating under the auspices of the Chinese Football Association (CFA). The league was established in 2004 by the rebranding of the former top division, Chinese Jia-A League.

Initially contested by 12 teams in its inaugural year, the league has since expanded, with 16 teams competing in the 2024 season. A total of 38 teams have competed in the CSL since its inception, with 9 of them winning the title: Guangzhou (eight), Shandong Taishan (four), Shanghai Port (two), Shenzhen, Dalian Shide, Changchun Yatai, Beijing Guoan, Jiangsu, and Wuhan Three Towns (one title each). The current Super League champions are Shanghai Port, who won the 2023 edition.

The Chinese Super League is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in China, with an average attendance of 24,107 for league matches in the 2018 season. This was the twelfth-highest of any domestic professional sports league in the world and the sixth-highest of any professional association football league in the world, behind the Bundesliga, the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Liga MX.

The League is now running under the authorization of the Chinese Football Association, The CSL Company, which is currently the commercial branch of the League, is a corporation in which the CFA and all of the member clubs act as shareholders. It is planned that the CFA will ultimately transfer their shares of The CSL Company to the clubs and professional union which consists of CSL clubs will be established as the League's management entity.

Overview

Competition

Unlike many top European leagues like Bundesliga, Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A, the Chinese Super League starts in February or March and ends in November or December. In each season, each club plays each of the other clubs twice, once at home and another away.

With 16 clubs currently in the Chinese Super League in Season 2023, each club plays 30 matches. There are 8 games every round, and a total of 240 games in the season.

The two lowest-placed teams by the end of the season are relegated to the China League One and the top two teams from the League One are promoted, taking their places.

The League position is determined by the highest number of points accumulated during the season. If two or more teams are level on points, tiebreakers are, in the following order

  1. Highest number of points accumulated in matches between the teams concerned;
  2. Highest goal difference in matches between the teams concerned;
  3. Highest number of goals scored in matches between the teams concerned;
  4. Highest points accumulated by the reserve teams in the reserve league
  5. Highest points accumulated by the U19 teams in the U19 league
  6. Highest goal difference;
  7. Highest number of goals scored;
  8. Fair-Play points (Clubs deduct 1 point for a yellow card, and 3 points for a red card);
  9. Draw by lots.

Chinese Super League clubs in international competition

When the Asian Football Confederation started the AFC Champions League in the 2002–03 season, China was given 2 slots in the competition. Qualification for the AFC Champions League changed in 2009 as AFC distributed 4 slots to China. The top three of the league, as well as the winner of the Chinese FA Cup, qualify for the AFC Champions League of the next year. If the FA Cup finalists finish the league in 3rd or higher, the 4th place team in the league will take the Champions League spot.

Between the 2002–03 and the 2017 season, Chinese clubs won the AFC Champions League two times, behind Korean K-League with five wins, and Japanese J-League with three wins.

Development

On 17 November 2017, the Vice-president of the CFA, Li Yuyi, disclosed the expansion plan of the top four level leagues of China. The Chinese Super League is planning to expand to 18 clubs, followed by China League One with 20 clubs, China League Two with 32 clubs and the Chinese Football Association Member Association Champions League with 48 clubs.

History

Origins

Though it could be argued that football was invented by the Chinese, organised league play of association football in China only began in 1951 with the establishment of the Chinese National Football Conference as a round-robin tournament, with 8 teams participating. Development was rapid: in 1954, the competition was renamed the National Football League, in 1956, it was divided into two Divisions, and promotion and relegation between the two tiers started in 1957. In the 1980s, the Chinese Football Association allowed enterprise entities to sponsor and invest in football teams, and as a result, the league entered a semi-pro period in 1987. Sponsored by Goldlion Group, the league played its first-ever home and away season: participating were the top 7 clubs of the 1986 Division 1, together with Liaoning, who were 1985 season champions, but did not compete in 1986 league season due to participating in the Asian Club Championship. The tournament was renamed the National Football League Division 1 Group A, or Chinese Jia-A League for short, and the other 8 clubs of Division 1 and the top 4 clubs from Division 2 participated in the Chinese Jia-B League. The two groups merged in the 1988 season, but divided again in 1989.

In the early 1990s, the CFA began to allow enterprises to purchase football clubs and manage them, whether they were state-owned enterprises or private-owned companies, and in 1992, it was announced that, as part of the sports system reform project, the Chinese Jia-A League would become the country's first professional football league, starting with the 1994 season. All Jia-A clubs were ordered to set up professionally before 1994, and all Jia-B clubs were given an extra year to realise professional structural reform. The Jia-A league achieved success in its early years, but in the late ’90s, its management practices received heavy criticism; special attention was paid to the lack of continuity in key policies, as well as a lack of sustainable development in certain member clubs. At the same time, the league was affected by gambling, match-fixing and corruption. As a result, the chaotic state of Jia-A had become a "troubled investment environment," with sponsors and club owners both bowing out. In recognition of the aforementioned, as well as a multitude of other factors, the Chinese Football Association decided to reform the League system, which ultimately led to the creation of the Chinese Super League.

On January 13, 2001, Yan Shiduo, vice-president of the Chinese Football Association, discussed setting up a new professional league system, and in 2002, the CFA announced the establishment of the Chinese Super League, with the first season beginning in 2004. Intending to introduce truly commercial methods and let the professional football market in China operate more freely, the CSL seeks to draw on the experience of professional Leagues in Europe to redesign the league structure and strengthen professionalism.

Foundation

Compared to the Jia-A, the CSL is a lot more demanding on teams. The CFA and CSL committee imposed a range of minimum criteria to ensure professional management and administration, financial probity, and a youth development program at every club. The CSL published first edition of CSL club criteria in 2002 and revised it several times, club license system was introduced since 2004. Besides the regular professional league, the CSL also has a reserve league, and Youth super league plays in U-19,U-17,U-15,U-14 and U-13 levels.

The CSL and China League One's goals are to promote high-quality and high-level competition, introduce advanced managerial concepts to the market, enforce the delivery of minimum standards of professionalism, encourage an influx of higher-quality foreign coaches and players, and gradually establish the European system for player registrations and transfers.

Summary

The first CSL season began in 2004, with 12 teams in the league. The inaugural season was plagued with controversy, which continued from the former league, Jia-A, and where, since 1999, scandals such as match-fixing and gambling had been uncovered. This resulted in the loss of interest in the domestic game, low attendances and great financial losses.

The original plan was to have one relegated team and two promoted teams for the 2004 season and 2005 season, thus increasing the number of teams in 2006 to 14. But the CFA's decisions caused the relegations to be cancelled for these 2 years.

For the 2005 season, the league expanded to 14 teams after Wuhan Huanghelou and Zhuhai Zobon won promotion from China League One. The Zhuhai team, formerly named Zhuhai Anping, had been bought by the Shanghai Zobon real estate company and relocated to Shanghai for the 2005 season, and subsequently renamed to Shanghai Zobon.

In 2006, the league was planned to expand to 16 teams with the newly promoted Xiamen Blue Lions and Changchun Yatai. However, Sichuan First City withdrew before the start of the season, leaving only 15 teams when the season started on March 11. Shanghai Zobon, after another change of ownership, was renamed Shanghai United.

In 2007, the league was again planned to be expanded to 16 teams, but once again it found itself one team short. Shanghai United's owner, Zhu Jun, bought a major share in local rival Shanghai Shenhua and merged the two teams. As a result, Shanghai Shenhua retained its name as it already had a strong fanbase in the city, while Shanghai United pulled out of the league.

In 2008, the season started with 16 clubs participating for the first time, however, Wuhan protested against punishments made by the CFA after a match against Beijing Guoan, and announced its immediate withdrawal from the league, which left the season to finish with 15 clubs.

Since 2009, the league has run with 16 stable clubs participating each year. Two are relegated to China League One, and two are promoted from China League One each season.

In 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, and former CFA vice presidents Xie Yalong, Nan Yong and Yang Yimin were arrested. On February 22, 2010, CFA relegated Guangzhou Yiyao for match-fixing in 2006 China League One Season, as well as Chengdu Blades for match-fixing in 2007 China League One season.

In 2011, the anti-corruption movement had visibly improved the image of the CSL, with increases to attendance. Clubs such as Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai Shenhua began investing heavily in foreign stars. After former Fluminense midfielder Darío Conca transferred in 2011, some notable signings during the 2012 seasons included former Chelsea forward Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, former Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita and Fábio Rochemback, former Sevilla forward Frédéric Kanouté, former Blackburn Rovers forward Yakubu and former Borussia Dortmund forward Lucas Barrios. Former Japan national team coach Takeshi Okada took up the reins as the new coach of Hangzhou Greentown, former Argentina national team coach Sergio Batista replaced Jean Tigana as Shanghai Shenhua's head coach, and former Italy national team and Juventus manager Marcello Lippi replaced Lee Jang-Soo as Guangzhou Evergrande's head coach.

In 2012, Guangzhou Evergrande became the first Chinese team to defend their CSL title, and to win consecutive titles. However, eight-time champions of Professional League, Dalian Shide, had seriously financial problems during the entire season, especially after the arrest of club owner Xu Ming. They had planned to merge with Dalian Aerbin, the other CSL club of the city, but the Chinese Football Association blocked the merger at the end, as Dalian Shide failed to cancel their registration as a CSL club before the merger. So Aerbin effectively purchased and swallowed up Shide, including the club's famed academy and training facilities. Dalian Shide was officially dissolved on 31 January 2013. The country's most successful club had ceased to exist.

In 2013, David Beckham became first global ambassador for CSL. In February 2013, Shanghai Shenhua was stripped of its 2003 Chinese Ji-A league title as part of a broad match-fixing crackdown. In total, 12 clubs were handed punishments, while 33 people, including former CFA vice-president Xie Yalong and Nan Yong, received life bans. Also in 2013, Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao won the Asian Champions League title, the first time a Chinese Super League team has won that award.

In 2014, Guangzhou Evergrande became the first Chinese club to win four consecutive professional league titles.

In 2015, ex-Tottenham midfielder Paulinho moved to Guangzhou Evergrande at the age of 27, Guangzhou Evergrande become AFC champions League champions for second time.

In 2016, the Chinese super league became a rising power in the global transfer market. Brazil international Ramires, Colombia international Jackson Martinez and Fredy Guarin were among the notable signings, while Pavel Nedvěd was appointed as second global ambassador for CSL.

2017 saw the Chinese Super League (CSL) catapulted to global attention. Players such as Oscar, Carlos Tevez, Ricardo Carvalho, Alexandre Pato and Mikel John Obi all moved east during the year. Guangzhou Evergrande won their 7th consecutive league title.

2018, in the 28th round of the 2018 Chinese Super League, the two title favourites Shanghai SIPG and Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao clashed head-to-head, with Shanghai SIPG coming away with 5 - 4 hard win over Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao to open up the points gap with Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao. At last, Shanghai SIPG won the 2018 Chinese Super League Champion, thus breaking Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao's 7-year monopoly of the Chinese Super League.

At the 2019 CSL Mobilization Meeting, the CFA Referees Committee officially announced that a professional referee system will be introduced in the CSL in 2019, with two foreign referees including Mark Clattenburg, Milorad Mažić, and three local referees to be officially hired as the first professional referees in the history of Chinese football. The two foreign professional referees will be mainly responsible for enforcing the Chinese Super League, but will also provide coaching and training for local referees.

Affected by COVID-19,the 2020 Chinese Super League has been postponed to July 25. The 16 teams will be divided into two groups to play in Suzhou and Dalian. This year's league was temporarily changed to a "Group stage + Knockout" format and adopted a tournament system.

Planning cooperation structure

The preparatory committee of the Chinese Professional Football League was established on May 27, 2016, with members from 5 CSL clubs, 3 CL1 clubs and 2 CL2 clubs, includes two CFA representatives. The blueprint is to have all of the three professional level leagues of China, the Chinese Super League, China Football League one and China Football League two separated from the League structure of the CFA. The PFL will be a private company wholly owned by its Member Clubs who make up the League at any one time. Each club is a shareholder, with one vote each on issues such as rule changes and contracts. The newly formed PFL would have commercial independence from The CFA, giving the PFL licence to negotiate its own broadcast and sponsorship agreements.

The CFA will no longer hold any shares of the League, but as the national governing body for football in China, the CFA is responsible for sanctioning competition Rule Books, and regulating on-field matters. It also organises The CFA Cup competition, in which PFL Member Clubs compete and the lower division leagues ranked after CL2, under a specific agreement between CFA and PFL. The CFA also has the ability to exercise a vote on certain specific issues, but has no role in the day-to-day running of the CSL, CL1 and CL2.

On January 3, 2017, the CFA announced that Chinese Professional Football League, formed as a limited company, will be established in March 2017, the CSL and CL1 clubs will be found members of the PFL starts from 2017, with CL2 planning to join the system by 2019. The PFL preparatory committee will discuss and establish the regulations and the structures of the PFL, holding the elections of the PFL president in January and February 2017. However, after a series of meetings includes CFA officers and club owners, the plan had been put on hold.

Clubs

Champions

Season Champions Runners-up
2004 Shenzhen Jianlibao Shandong Luneng
2005 Dalian Shide Shanghai Shenhua
2006 Shandong Luneng Shanghai Shenhua
2007 Changchun Yatai Beijing Guoan
2008 Shandong Luneng Shanghai Shenhua
2009 Beijing Guoan Changchun Yatai
2010 Shandong Luneng Tianjin TEDA
2011 Guangzhou Evergrande Beijing Guoan
2012 Guangzhou Evergrande Jiangsu Sainty
2013 Guangzhou Evergrande Shandong Luneng
2014 Guangzhou Evergrande Beijing Guoan
2015 Guangzhou Evergrande Shanghai SIPG
2016 Guangzhou Evergrande Jiangsu Suning
2017 Guangzhou Evergrande Shanghai SIPG
2018 Shanghai SIPG Guangzhou Evergrande
2019 Guangzhou Evergrande Beijing Guoan
2020 Jiangsu Suning Guangzhou Evergrande
2021 Shandong Taishan Shanghai Port
2022 Wuhan Three Towns Shandong Taishan
2023 Shanghai Port Shandong Taishan

Performances in Chinese Super League

Club Titles Runners-up Winning seasons Runner-up seasons
Guangzhou
8
2
2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 2018, 2020
Shandong Taishan
4
4
2006, 2008, 2010, 2021 2004, 2013, 2022, 2023
Shanghai Port
2
3
2018, 2023 2015, 2017, 2021
Beijing Guoan
1
4
2009 2007, 2011, 2014, 2019
Jiangsu
1
2
2020 2012, 2016
Changchun Yatai
1
1
2007 2009
Shenzhen
1
0
2004
Dalian Shide
1
0
2005
Wuhan Three Towns
1
0
2022
Shanghai Shenhua
0
3
2005, 2006, 2008
Tianjin Jinmen Tiger
0
1
2010
Total 20 20

Current clubs

Club Location Stadium Capacity Seasons Best finish Worst finish Current spell Head coach
English name Chinese name
Beijing Guoan 北京国安 Beijing Workers' Stadium 68,000 2004 to 2024 1st (2009) 9th (2017) from 2004 Portugal Ricardo Soares
Cangzhou Mighty Lions 沧州雄狮 Cangzhou Cangzhou Stadium 31,836 2015 to 2016
2020 to 2024
7th (2015) 16th (2016, 2020) from 2020 China Zhao Junzhe
Changchun Yatai 长春亚泰 Changchun Changchun Stadium 41,638 2006 to 2018
2021 to 2024
1st (2007) 15th (2018) from 2021 China Xie Hui
Chengdu Rongcheng 成都蓉城 Chengdu Chengdu Phoenix Hill Football Stadium 50,695 2022 to 2024 4th (2023) 5th (2022) from 2022 South Korea Seo Jung-won
Henan 河南 Zhengzhou Zhengzhou Hanghai Stadium 29,860 2007 to 2012
2014 to 2024
3rd (2009) 16th (2012) from 2014 South Korea Nam Ki-Il
Meizhou Hakka 梅州客家 Wuhua Huitang Stadium 27,000 2022 to 2024 9th (2022) 11th (2023) from 2022 Spain Pablo Villar
Nantong Zhiyun 南通支云 Rugao Rugao Olympic Sports Center 14,603 2023 to 2024 14th (2023) from 2023 Serbia Mihajlo Jurasovic
Qingdao Hainiu 青岛海牛 Qingdao Qingdao Youth Football Stadium 52,800 2004 to 2013
2023 to 2024
6th (2011) 15th (2013) from 2023 Bulgaria Yasen Petrov
Qingdao West Coast 青岛西海岸 Qingdao Guzhenkou University City Sports Center Stadium 20,000 2024 none from 2024 Japan Hisashi Kurosaki
Shandong Taishan 山东泰山 Jinan Jinan Olympic Sports Luneng Stadium 56,808 2004 to 2024 1st (2006, 2008, 2010, 2021) 14th (2016) from 2004 South Korea Choi Kang-hee
Shanghai Port 上海海港 Shanghai Pudong Football Stadium 37,000 2013 to 2024 1st (2018, 2023) 9th (2013) from 2013 Australia Kevin Muscat
Shanghai Shenhua 上海申花 Shanghai Shanghai Stadium 71,066 2004 to 2024 2nd (2005, 2006, 2008) 13th (2019) from 2004 Russia Leonid Slutsky
Shenzhen Peng City 深圳新鹏城 Shenzhen Bao'an Stadium 44,050 2024 none from 2024 Spain Jesús Tato
Tianjin Jinmen Tiger 天津津门虎 Tianjin TEDA Football Stadium 36,390 2004 to 2024 2nd (2010) 14th (2018) from 2004 China Yu Genwei
Wuhan Three Towns 武汉三镇 Wuhan Wuhan Sports Center 56,201 2022 to 2024 1st (2022) 7th (2023) from 2022 Spain Ricardo Rodríguez
Zhejiang 浙江 Hangzhou Hangzhou Yellow Dragon Sports Center 51,971 2007 to 2016
2022 to 2024
3rd (2022, 2023) 15th (2009, 2016) from 2022 Spain Jordi Vinyals

Former clubs

Club Home City Stadium Capacity Seasons in CSL Best finish Worst finish Current league
English name Chinese name
Dalian Pro 大连人 Dalian Dalian Barracuda Bay Football Stadium 63,000 2012 to 2014, 2018 to 2023 5th (2012, 2013) 15th (2014, 2021, 2023) Defunct
Shenzhen 深圳 Shenzhen Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre 60,334 2004 to 2011, 2019 to 2023 1st (2004) 16th (2011, 2023) Defunct
Guangzhou City 广州城 Guangzhou Yuexiushan Stadium 18,000 2004 to 2010, 2012 to 2022 3rd (2014) 16th (2010) Defunct
Wuhan Yangtze River 武汉长江 Wuhan Wuhan Five Rings Sports Center 30,000 2013, 2019 to 2022 6th (2019) 16th (2013, 2022) Defunct
Hebei 河北 Langfang Langfang Stadium 30,040 2016 to 2022 4th (2017) 18th (2022) Defunct
Chongqing Liangjiang Athletic 重庆两江竞技 Chongqing Chongqing Olympic Sports Center 58,680 2004 to 2006, 2009 to
2010, 2015 to 2021
6th (2020) 16th (2009) Defunct
Qingdao 青岛 Qingdao Conson Stadium 45,000 2020 to 2021 14th (2020) 16th (2021) Defunct
Jiangsu 江苏 Nanjing Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre 61,443 2009 to 2020 1st (2020) 13th (2013) Defunct
Beijing Renhe 北京人和 Fengtai Beijing Fengtai Stadium 31,043 2004 to 2015
2018 to 2019
3rd (2004) 16th (2019) Defunct
Tianjin Tianhai 天津天海 Tianjin Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium 60,000 2017 to 2019 3rd (2017) 14th (2019) Defunct
Guizhou F.C. 贵州恒丰 Guiyang Guiyang Olympic Sports Center 51,636 2017 to 2018 8th (2017) 16th (2018) Defunct
Liaoning F.C. 辽宁宏运 Shenyang Tiexi New District Sports Center 30,000 2004 to 2008
2010 to 2017
3rd (2011) 16th (2017) Defunct
Yanbian Funde 延边富德 Yanji Yanji Stadium 30,000 2016 to 2017 9th (2016) 15th (2017) Defunct
Shanghai Shenxin 上海申鑫 Jinshan Jinshan Football Stadium 30,000 2010 to 2015 7th (2013) 16th (2015) Defunct
Shaoxing Keqiao Yuejia 绍兴柯桥越甲 Shaoxing China Textile City Sports Center 20,000 2014 16th (2014) Defunct
Dalian Shide 大连实德 Dalian Dalian Jinzhou Stadium 30,776 2004 to 2012 1st (2005) 14th (2008, 2012) Defunct
Chengdu Tiancheng 成都天誠 Chengdu Shuangliu Sports Center 26,000 2008 to 2009, 2011 9th (2009) 15th (2011) Defunct
Wuhan Optics Valley 武汉光谷 Wuhan Wuhan Sports Center 54,000 2005 to 2008 5th (2005) 16th (2008) Defunct
Xiamen Blue Lions 厦门蓝狮 Xiamen Xiamen People's Stadium 32,000 2006 to 2007 8th (2006) 15th (2007) Defunct
Shanghai United 上海联城 Shanghai Yuanshen Sports Centre Stadium 16,000 2005 to 2006 7th (2006) 11th (2005) Defunct
Sichuan First City 四川冠城 Chengdu Chengdu Sports Centre 39,225 2004 to 2005 9th (2004, 2005) Defunct

Rivalries

There are several key rivalries and local derbies that have formed in the Chinese Super League, including:

Jing–Hu rivalry

Shanghai derby

  • 2004: Shanghai Shenhua v Inter Shanghai
  • 2005: Shanghai Shenhua v Inter Shanghai v Shanghai United
  • 2006: Shanghai Shenhua v Shanghai United
  • 2012: Shanghai Shenhua v Shanghai Shenxin
  • 2013–2015: Shanghai Shenhua v Shanghai Shenxin v Shanghai Port
  • 2016–present: Shanghai Shenhua v Shanghai Port

Guangzhou derby

Dalian derby

  • 2012: Dalian Shide v Dalian Aerbin

Tianjin derby

  • 2017–2019: Tianjin Teda v Tianjin Tianhai

Beijing derby

Wuhan derby

  • 2022: Wuhan Yangtze River v Wuhan Three Towns

Qingdao derby

  • 2024–present: Qingdao Hainiu v Qingdao West Coast

Players

Player salaries and transfers

Professional footballers in China receive relatively high salaries when compared to other Chinese sports leagues and football leagues in other countries. The average salary for CSL players is $1,016,579 in 2017, it is ranked at eleventh place among all of the professional sports leagues and the sixth-highest of any professional association football league in the world.

CSL has two transfer windows—the primary pre-season transfer window lasts two months from January to February, and the secondary mid season transfer window runs one month from mid June to mid July. As of the 2018 season, the CSL introduced new rules mandating that each club must register a maximum 31-man squad, with 27 Chinese Players, including a player from Hong Kong, Macau and Chinese Taipei, and 4 foreign players. In the transfer window clubs could sign 5 Chinese players at any age, plus 3 under 21 Chinese players; clubs could register 4 foreign players in the winter transfer, and replace two of them in the summer transfer.

The record transfer fee for a CSL player has risen rapidly since the investment boost started in 2015. The six most expensive transfers with players coming to CSL have exceeded €30 million, with Chelsea selling Oscar to Shanghai SIPG in December 2016 for a fee of €60 million, Zenit Saint Petersburg selling Hulk to Shanghai SIPG for €55.8 million in July 2016, Shakhtar Donetsk selling Alex Teixeira to Jiangsu Suning for €50 million in February 2016, Atlético Madrid selling Jackson Martínez to Guangzhou Evergrande for €42 million in February 2016, Villarreal selling Cédric Bakambu to Beijing Guoan for €40 million in February 2018, Atlético Madrid selling Yannick Carrasco to Dalian Yifang for €30 million in February 2018. Guangzhou Evergrande's sale of Paulinho to Barcelona for €40 million in 2017 broke the record for a CSL player transfer to other leagues. Transfer fees for domestic players also increased dramatically. Beijing Guoan sold Chinese International Zhang Chengdong to Hebei China Fortune for ¥15 million in January 2017, breaking the domestic transfer record for Chinese players.

The Chinese Football Association introduced a new transfer tax to restrict transfer spending. On June 20, 2017, CFA announced that any club that pays more than ¥45 million for a foreign player transfer or ¥20 million for a Chinese player transfer must pay the same amount to a CFA youth development fund.

In December 2020, the CFA imposed a salary cap on the Super League. Starting with the 2021 season, total player wages are capped at ¥600 million, with a separate limit of €10 million for foreign players. Individual player salaries are also capped, at ¥5 million before tax for Chinese players and €3 million for foreign players.

Foreign player policy

In early years, numerous players from Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America regions were signed as the foreign players in the Chinese league. Steadily, a lot of players transferred to China from major European and South American Leagues. The league has rules, at present, restricting the number of foreign players strictly to four per team. A team could use a maximum of three foreign players on the field each game. This is to promote native player improvement and to conform to rules regarding international club competitions in the AFC. Between 2009 and 2017, there was an additional slot for a player from AFC countries. During the middle of the 2012 season, it was decided that teams that were competing in the AFC Champions League were allowed to have two extra foreign players, which can bring the number of foreigners on a team's seven; however, the policy was removed in the 2013 season.

Season Squad Match On-field Note
1994–2000 3 3 3
2001–2003 4 4 3 From 2001, foreign goalkeepers were restricted to play in matches.
2004–2006 3 3 2
2007–2008 4 4 3
2009–2016 4+1 4+1 3+1 "+1" refers to the AFC quota. Teams may add a player from another country within the AFC; examples include Bhutan, Maldives, and Nepal.
2017 4+1 3 3 Teams can use three foreign players at most in a match.
2018–2019.7 4 3 3 Teams can use three foreign players at most in a match. The number of foreign players on-field in one match must be no more than the number of U-23 domestic players.
2019.7–2019.12 4 4 3
2020–2023 5 5 4
2024– 5 5 5

Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwanese players

Policy for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwanese players has changed continually. Players from Hong Kong Football Association were considered foreigners at the beginning of 2009, but the league held back the change until the summer transfer window. After the 2010 season, players from Macau Football Association and Chinese Taipei Football Association (except goalkeepers) were not considered foreigners in CSL matches, but will be regarded as foreigners in AFC competitions. In the 2015 season, players who had not played for the Hong Kong national football team, Macau national football team or the Chinese Taipei national football team were no longer deemed native players. In the 2016 and 2017 season, players from the three associations whose contract was signed after 1 January 2016 were no longer deemed native players. From the 2018 season, a club could register one non-naturalized player from the three associations as a native player. According to the Chinese FA, a non-naturalized player refers to someone who was first registered as a professional footballer in the three football associations. Furthermore, Hong Kong or Macau players must be of Chinese descent of Hong Kong or Macau permanent resident, and Taiwanese players must be citizens of Taiwan.

Most goals and appearances

Head coaches

In early years Chinese and Serbian coaches achieved success in the Chinese Super League. Just like the Jia-A period, the majority of foreign coaches were from countries like Serbia, Croatia and South Korea. Nowadays most CSL clubs appoint coaches from Western Europe and South America. Guangzhou Evergrande were the first side to spend big to bring in European and South American coaches. World Cup winning managers Marcello Lippi and Luiz Felipe Scolari had successful experiences at Guangzhou Evergrande. Famous coaches who have coached in China include Fabio Capello, Felix Magath, Manuel Pellegrini, Dan Petrescu, André Villas-Boas, Cuca, Sven-Göran Eriksson, Sergio Batista, Radomir Antić.

Winning head coaches
Head coach Club Wins Winning years
Italy Marcello Lippi Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 3 2012, 2013, 2014
Brazil Luiz Felipe Scolari Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 2015, 2016, 2017
Serbia Ljubiša Tumbaković Shandong Luneng Taishan 2 2006, 2008
China Zhu Guanghu Shenzhen Jianlibao 1 2004
Serbia Vladimir Petrović Dalian Shide 2005
China Gao Hongbo Changchun Yatai 2007
China Hong Yuanshuo Beijing Guoan 2009
Croatia Branko Ivanković Shandong Luneng Taishan 2010
South Korea Lee Jang-soo Guangzhou Evergrande 2011
Portugal Vítor Pereira Shanghai SIPG 2018
Italy Fabio Cannavaro Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 2019
Romania Cosmin Olăroiu Jiangsu Suning 2020
China Hao Wei Shandong Taishan 2021
Spain Pedro Morilla Wuhan Three Towns 2022
Spain Javier Pereira Shanghai Port 2023
Current head coaches
Nat. Name Club Appointed Time in charge
Australia Kevin Muscat Shanghai Port 1 January 2024 204 days
South Korea Choi Kang-hee Shandong Taishan 16 May 2023 1 year, 68 days
Spain Jordi Vinyals Zhejiang 1 January 2021 3 years, 204 days
South Korea Seo Jung-won Chengdu Rongcheng 12 December 2020 3 years, 224 days
Russia Leonid Slutsky Shanghai Shenhua 1 January 2024 204 days
Portugal Ricardo Soares Beijing Guoan 15 June 2023 1 year, 38 days
Spain Ricardo Rodríguez Wuhan Three Towns 5 January 2024 200 days
China Yu Genwei Tianjin Jinmen Tiger 26 March 2021 3 years, 119 days
China Chen Yang Changchun Yatai 5 October 2020 3 years, 292 days
South Korea Nam Ki-il Henan 8 January 2024 197 days
Spain Pablo Villar Meizhou Hakka 6 January 2024 199 days
China Zhao Junzhe Cangzhou Mighty Lions 23 February 2023 1 year, 151 days
Bulgaria Yasen Petrov Qingdao Hainiu 25 December 2023 211 days
Serbia Mihajlo Jurasović Nantong Zhiyun 5 January 2024 200 days
Spain Jesús Tato Sichuan Jiuniu 21 April 2023 1 year, 93 days
Japan Hisashi Kurosaki Qingdao West Coast 2 January 2024 203 days
Most games managed
Rank Manager Games Club(s)
1 China Ma Lin 245 Liaoning FC (2004, 2008, 2010–2013, 2015–2017); Chongqing Lifan (2005); Dalian Yifang (2014)
2 China Shen Xiangfu 203 Beijing Guoan (2005–2006); Guangzhou Pharmaceutical (2008–2009); Changchun Yatai (2010–2011); Henan Jianye (2012); Shanghai Shenhua (2013–2014)
3 Serbia Ljubiša Tumbaković 178 Shandong Luneng Taishan (2004–2009); Wuhan Zall (2013)
4 China Gao Hongbo 160 Xiamen Lanshi (2006); Changchun Yatai (2007–2008); Guizhou Renhe (2011–2012); Shanghai East Asia (2013); Jiangsu Sainty (2013–2015)
5 China Jia Xiuquan 152 Henan Jianye (2008, 2014–2017); Shanghai Shenhua (2008–2009)
5 China Tang Yaodong 152 Liaoning FC (2005–2007); Henan Jianye (2008–2010, 2014)
6 South Korea Chang Woe-ryong 149 Qingdao Jonoon (2011, 2012–2013); Dalian Aerbin (2011); Chongqing Lifan (2016–2017, 2019–2022); Henan Jianye (2018)
7 South Korea Lee Jang-soo 148 Beijing Guoan (2006–2009); Guangzhou Evergrande (2011–2012); Changchun Yatai (2016–2017); Shenzhen (2022)
9 Netherlands Arie Haan 137 Chongqing Lifan (2009); Tianjin Teda (2010–2011, 2014–2015)
10 China Zhu Jiong 136 Shanghai Shenxin (2010–2013); Guizhou Renhe (2014–2015)
Statistics correct as of the end of the 2022 Chinese Super League

Attendance

The Chinese Super League has the highest average attendance of any football league in Asia. However, stadiums have capacity restrictions.

Season averages

Season Total attendance Games Average Change High avg. Team No. Of Clubs Relegation Slots
2004 1,430,600 132 10,838 -63.4% 23,636 Shandong Luneng Taishan 12 -
2005 1,871,700 182 10,284 -5.4% 26,000 Shandong Luneng Taishan 14 -
2006 2,228,300 210 10,611 +3.2% 30,679 Shandong Luneng Taishan 15 1
2007 3,173,500 210 15,112 +42.4% 24,643 Shanxi Chanba 15 1
2008 3,065,280 228 13,444 -12.4% 26,501 Shandong Luneng Taishan 16 2
2009 3,854,115 240 16,059 +19.5% 36,805 Beijing Guoan 16 2
2010 3,499,304 240 14,581 -9.2% 33,342 Beijing Guoan 16 2
2011 4,236,322 240 17,651 +21.1% 45,666 Guangzhou Evergrande 16 2
2012 4,497,578 240 18,740 +6.2% 37,250 Guangzhou Evergrande 16 2
2013 4,456,977 240 18,571 -0.9% 40,428 Guangzhou Evergrande 16 2
2014 4,556,520 240 18,986 +2.2% 42,154 Guangzhou Evergrande 16 2
2015 5,326,304 240 22,193 +16.8% 45,889 Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 16 2
2016 5,798,135 240 24,159 +8.8% 44,883 Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 16 2
2017 5,703,871 240 23,766 −1.6% 45,587 Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 16 2
2018 5,785,766 240 24,107 +1.4% 47,002 Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 16 2

Attendance by clubs

This table lists average attendances of clubs yearly, but only for seasons when that club played in the top division. Clubs are listed with their current names.

Team Crowd average
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Beijing Guoan 10,864 18,923 13,571 21,571 14,641 36,805 33,342 40,397 36,879 39,269 39,395 40,997 38,114 34,684 41,743
Beijing Renhe 8,455 4,385 17,286 24,643 24,625 23,026 28,053 27,836 29,574 21,312 12,327 15,139 12,534
Changchun Yatai 8,607 16,429 5,797 12,179 10,067 13,835 12,701 12,975 12,886 14,855 15,335 16,477 18,819
Chongqing Dangdai Lifan 15,727 5,731 6,536 11,440 11,433 37,595 36,178 34,439 32,434
Chengdu Blades 12,378 11,873 6,443
Dalian Yifang 15,774 10,538 10,993 33,145
Dalian Shide 11,273 14,000 5,043 10,286 7,900 16,613 12,307 17,148 11,093
Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 19,624 20,057 45,666 37,250 40,428 42,154 45,889 44,883 45,587 47,002
Guangzhou City 5,000 2,077 2,750 10,571 6,645 8,498 10,152 8,460 10,384 11,487 7,989 9,831 9,904 10,321
Guizhou Hengfeng 21,102 16,703
Hebei China Fortune 18,469 18,054 16,029
Henan Jianye 16,857 16,267 19,255 18,630 16,334 17,526 18,390 20,207 17,282 18,933 18,402
Jiangsu Suning 15,976 10,667 17,170 31,163 28,808 24,349 26,858 38,992 32,697 32,508
Liaoning Whowin 7,727 11,000 6,929 15,929 11,733 10,100 19,621 18,638 20,850 12,781 12,788 22,506 12,429
Qingdao Jonoon 4,645 4,500 6,071 7,179 6,600 8,774 6,247 8,464 9,538 8,284
Shandong Luneng Taishan 23,636 26,000 30,679 22,607 26,501 17,015 15,901 12,112 20,148 27,683 23,931 22,559 18,932 30,283 24,785
Shanghai Greenland Shenhua 13,636 12,462 12,786 11,393 11,510 12,627 12,963 9,828 14,761 12,739 15,417 19,506 22,690 19,021 21,480
Shanghai Shenxin 11,680 10,462 11,597 8,559 10,115 7,028
Shanghai SIPG 10,161 12,460 26,381 28,040 29,174 21,631
Shanghai United 4,885 2,193
Shenzhen F.C. 10,364 2,423 10,071 13,000 6,400 13,460 12,439 10,277
Shijiazhuang Ever Bright 25,070 22,523
Sichuan Guancheng 5,545 5,477
Tianjin Tianhai 24,877 19,695
Tianjin Teda 13,182 16,462 18,071 15,429 14,007 14,554 14,757 18,242 14,175 16,577 17,190 19,661 21,740 14,531 18,487
Wuhan Guanggu 15,654 10,500 13,179 12,556
Wuhan Zall 14,403
Xiamen Lanshi 8,071 8,036
Yanbian Funde 19,304 18,058
Zhejiang 19,571 12,188 14,790 14,550 8,586 10,563 14,164 13,766 12,566 11,723
Zhejiang Yiteng 26,126
Whole season 10,838 10,284 10,611 15,112 13,444 16,059 14,581 17,651 18,740 18,571 18,986 22,193 24,159 23,766 24,107

Individual game highest attendance records

Rank Home team Score Away team Attendance Stadium Date
1 Jiangsu Sainty 1–1 Guangzhou Evergrande 65,769 Nanjing Olympic Stadium 20 Oct 2012
2 Jiangsu Sainty 1–2 Guangzhou Evergrande 58,792 Nanjing Olympic Stadium 14 Jul 2013
3 Beijing Sinobo Guoan 1–3 Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 57,056 Worker's Stadium 11 Aug 2019
4 Beijing Sinobo Guoan 1–1 Shandong Luneng Taishan 56,544 Worker's Stadium 5 Aug 2018
5 Guangzhou Evergrande 1–0 Guangzhou R&F 56,300 Tianhe Stadium 25 Aug 2013
6 Beijing Sinobo Guoan 2–2 Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 56,211 Worker's Stadium 22 Apr 2018
7 Beijing Guoan 4–0 Hangzhou Greentown 54,116 Worker's Stadium 31 Oct 2009
8 Beijing Sinobo Guoan 2–0 Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 54,018 Worker's Stadium 10 Jul 2017
9 Beijing Sinobo Guoan 2–2 Shandong Luneng Taishan 53,906 Worker's Stadium 5 Aug 2017
10 Beijing Guoan 2–2 Shanghai Port 53,898 Worker's Stadium 5 Apr 2024

Awards

The official Chinese Super league annual awards are given to clubs, players, managers and referees based on their performance during the season.

Trophy

The Fire-god trophy is the official trophy award to CSL champions. The trophy was created by the Sculpture Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and donated by the official partner of the Chinese Super League, Hengyuanxiang Group, in 2004. It consists of a pure gold trophy and a nephrite plinth base. The lower part of the trophy is the model of a Great Wall beacon tower; on the upper part, on top of the rising beacon, is a football wrapped by the earth, while the base has the engraved years and names of each Chinese Super League winner since 2004. The trophy weighs 5.548 kilograms (12.23 lb). The trophy and plinth are 52 cm (20 in) tall.

The trophy is not awarded to the winning club permanently. After the award ceremony they are awarded a replica, and they are allowed to retain the genuine trophy for one year.

Player of the Year

It is also named the "Most Valuable Player".

Year Footballer Club Nationality
2004 Zhao Junzhe Liaoning Zhongyu  China
2005 Branko Jelić Beijing Guoan  Serbia
2006 Zheng Zhi Shandong Luneng Taishan  China
2007 Du Zhenyu Changchun Yatai
2008 Emil Martínez Shanghai Shenhua  Honduras
2009 Samuel Caballero Changchun Yatai
2010 Duvier Riascos Shanghai Shenhua  Colombia
2011 Muriqui Guangzhou Evergrande  Brazil
2012 Cristian Dănălache Jiangsu Sainty  Romania
2013 Darío Conca Guangzhou Evergrande  Argentina
2014 Elkeson  Brazil
2015 Ricardo Goulart Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao
2016
2017 Eran Zahavi Guangzhou R&F  Israel
2018 Wu Lei Shanghai SIPG  China
2019 Paulinho Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao  Brazil
2023 Wu Lei Shanghai Port  China

Golden Boot Award

This award is awarded to the top goalscorer of the league that year.

Year Top scorer Club Goals
2004 Ghana Kwame Ayew Inter Shanghai 17
2005 Serbia Branko Jelić Beijing Guoan 21
2006 China Li Jinyu Shandong Luneng Taishan 26
2007 15
2008 Brazil Éber Luís Tianjin Teda 14
2009 Argentina Hernán Barcos
Honduras Luis Ramírez
Shenzhen Asia Travel / Shanghai Shenhua
Guangzhou GPC
17
2010 Colombia Duvier Riascos Shanghai Shenhua 20
2011 Brazil Muriqui Guangzhou Evergrande 16
2012 Romania Cristian Dănălache Jiangsu Sainty 23
2013 Brazil Elkeson Guangzhou Evergrande 24
2014 28
2015 Brazil Aloísio Shandong Luneng Taishan 22
2016 Brazil Ricardo Goulart Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 19
2017 Israel Eran Zahavi Guangzhou R&F 27
2018 China Wu Lei Shanghai SIPG 27
2019 Israel Eran Zahavi Guangzhou R&F 29
2020 Democratic Republic of the Congo Cédric Bakambu Beijing Guoan 14
2021 Brazil Júnior Negrão Changchun Yatai 14
2022 Brazil Marcão Wuhan Three Towns 27
2023 Brazil Leonardo Changchun Yatai and Zhejiang 19

There is also an award that is awarded to the top Chinese goalscorer of that season, which was first introduced in 2011.

Year Top scorer Club Goals
2011 Yu Hanchao Liaoning FC 12
2012 Wang Yongpo Shandong Luneng Taishan 10
2013 Wu Lei Shanghai East Asia 15
2014 12
2015 Shanghai SIPG 14
2016 14
2017 20
2018 27
2019 Wei Shihao Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 11
2020 8
2021 Guo Tianyu Shandong Taishan 10
2022 Zhang Yuning Beijing Guoan 19
2023 Wu Lei Shanghai Port 18

Manager of the Year

Year Manager Club Standings Nationality
2004 Zhu Guanghu Shenzhen Jianlibao Chinese Super League champions  China
2005 Vladimir Petrović Dalian Shide Chinese Super League champions; Chinese FA Cup winners  Serbia
2006 Ljubiša Tumbaković Shandong Luneng Taishan Chinese Super League champions; Chinese FA Cup winners  Serbia
2007 Gao Hongbo Changchun Yatai Chinese Super League champions  China
2008 Ljubiša Tumbaković Shandong Luneng Taishan Chinese Super League champions  Serbia
2009 Tang Yaodong Henan Jianye Chinese Super League third place  China
2010 Branko Ivanković Shandong Luneng Taishan Chinese Super League champions  Croatia
2011 Ma Lin Liaoning Whowin Chinese Super League third place  China
2012 Dragan Okuka Jiangsu Sainty Chinese Super League runners-up  Serbia
2013 Marcello Lippi Guangzhou Evergrande Chinese Super League champions; AFC Champions League winners  Italy
2014 Gregorio Manzano Beijing Guoan Chinese Super League runners-up  Spain
2015 Luiz Felipe Scolari Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Chinese Super League champions; AFC Champions League winners  Brazil
2016 Luiz Felipe Scolari Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Chinese Super League champions; Chinese FA Cup winners  Brazil
2017 Fabio Cannavaro Tianjin Quanjian Chinese Super League 3rd place  Italy
2018 Li Xiaopeng Shandong Luneng Taishan Chinese Super League 3rd place  China
2019 Li Xiaopeng Shandong Luneng Taishan Chinese Super League 3rd place  China
2023 Choi Kang-hee Shandong Taishan Chinese Super League 2nd place  South Korea

Youth Player of the Year

Year Footballer Club
2004 Chen Tao Shenyang Ginde
2005 Hao Junmin Tianjin Teda
2006 Wang Dalei Shanghai Liancheng
2007 Hao Junmin Tianjin Teda
2008 Huang Bowen Beijing Guoan
2009 Deng Zhuoxiang Jiangsu Sainty
2010 Zheng Zheng Shandong Luneng Taishan
2011 Song Wenjie Qingdao Jonoon
2012 Zhang Xizhe Beijing Guoan
2013 Jin Jingdao Shandong Luneng Taishan
2014 Liu Binbin Shandong Luneng Taishan
2015 Vacancy
2016 Li Xiaoming Henan Jianye
2017 Hu Jinghang Henan Jianye
2018 Huang Zichang Jiangsu Suning
2019 Zhu Chenjie Shanghai Greenland Shenhua
2023 Shahsat Hujahmat Shenzhen

There is also an award that is awarded to the U-23 player of the year, which was first introduced in 2017.

Year Footballer Club
2017 Huang Zhengyu Guangzhou R&F

Goalkeeper of the Year

Year Footballer Club
2012 Deng Xiaofei Jiangsu Sainty
2013 Zeng Cheng Guangzhou Evergrande
2014 Wang Dalei Shandong Luneng Taishan
2015 Zeng Cheng Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao
2016
2017 Yan Junling Shanghai SIPG
2018
2019
2023 Wang Dalei Shandong Taishan

Sponsors

Title sponsor

The current official title sponsor of the Chinese Super League is C'estbon, since 2024.

Sponsorships
Season Sponsor Annual value Official league name
2004 Siemens Mobile €8 million Siemens Mobile Chinese Super League
2005 No sponsor Chinese Football Association Super League
2006 IPhox €6 million Iphox Chinese Super League
2007 Kingway Beer ¥36 million Kingway Beer Chinese Super League
2008 ¥38 million Kingway Beer Chinese Super League
2009 Pirelli €5 million Pirelli Chinese Super League
2010 €5 million Pirelli Chinese Super League
2011 Wanda Plaza ¥65 million Wanda Plaza Chinese Super League
2012 ¥65 million Wanda Plaza Chinese Super League
2013 ¥65 million Wanda Plaza Chinese Super League
2014 Ping An Insurance ¥150 million Ping An Chinese Super League
2015 ¥165 million Ping An Chinese Super League
2016 ¥181.5 million Ping An Chinese Super League
2017 ¥199.65 million Ping An Chinese Super League
2018 ¥200 million Ping An Chinese Super League
2019 Ping An Chinese Super League
2020 Ping An Chinese Super League
2021 Ping An Chinese Super League
2022 Ping An Chinese Super League
2023 Ping An Chinese Super League
2024 China Resources C'estbon China Resources C'estbon Chinese Super League

Partners and suppliers

As well as sponsorship for the league itself, the Chinese Super League has a number of official partners and suppliers. The official equipment supplier for the league is Nike who have had the contract since the 2005 season. According to data published by Imedia Culture Communication Co., Ltd, the sponsor value from official partners and suppliers of Chinese Super League reaches 600 million Yuan in 2017 season.

The following table shows the partners and suppliers of the Chinese Super League. Bold denotes current sponsor.

Company Duration
Nike 2020–2029
China Mobile (Migu) 2024-
C'estbon 2023-
Chevron 2023-
Guoquan 2023-
EA Sports 2018-
Mengniu Dairy 2020–2022
SAIC Motor 2018–2022
Fengkuang.cn 2017–2022
Tsingtao Laoshan Beer 2017–2022
Ganten 2017–2022
DHL 2014–2022
Tmall 2018–2020
Absen LED 2017–2020
Eastroc Super Drink 2018–2019
ImagineChina 2017–2019
TAG Heuer 2016–2019
Shell 2014–2019
JD.com 2010, 2013–2017
Red Bull 2015–2017
Ford 2014–2017
Yanghe 2017
Ledman Solar 2011–2016
Carlsberg 2013–2016
Samsung 2013–2014
Huiyuan Juice 2014
China Auto Rental 2013
SDLG 2011–2013
Harbin Beer 2011–2012
Shinery Motor 2009–2010
Frestech 2010
Canon 2004–2008
CP-Freda 2004–2006
Hengyuanxiang 2004–2006
Hyundai Motors 2004–2005

Media coverage

China

The first broadcast rights holders of the rebranded Chinese Super League was the Shanghai Media Group (SMG). In September 2003, they signed a three-year contract for 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons. The second SMG contract was signed in February 2007 for the five-year period from 2007 to 2011.

CCTV acquired the CSL television rights in 2012, and they held the rights until 2015 under annual contract. CSL was broadcast in CCTV's public cable TV channel CCTV5 and CCTV5+ but the satellite TV rights were sold to Cloud Media from 2014 to 2017.

Starting from the 2016 season, the Chinese Super League sold its television rights on a collective basis. However, it benefits CSL clubs almost equally according to CSL commercial contracts. The money is divided into three parts: 10% reserved for the Chinese football association and CSL company, which is paid out as facilities fees and management expenses, as to the remaining 90%, 81% of them is divided equally between the clubs; and 9% is awarded on a merit basis based on final league position.

The current media rights holder is the China Sports Media Co., Ltd. (CSM, simplified Chinese: 体奥动力, pinyin: tǐ ào dòng lì) CSM bought the rights for five seasons (2016–2020) for 8 billion yuan in October 2015. On January 24, 2018, The CSL and CSM reached an agreement to extend the original five-year contract to a 10-year one (2016–2025) and to raise the price to 11 billion yuan, about 1.73 billion dollars according to the exchange rate then prevailing.

Worldwide

Outside of China, currently IMG holds the global media rights to the Chinese Super League. The first contract was signed in 2016 for two seasons, and in 2018 IMG and CSM has sealed a three-year extension. The CSL is now broadcasting in 96 countries across the world.

Country/Region Network
 Australia SBS
 Austria DAZN
 Germany
 Italy OneFootball
 Switzerland DAZN
Balkan countries
  •  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  •  Croatia
  •  Montenegro
  •  North Macedonia
  •  Serbia
  •  Slovenia
SportKlub
 Brazil ESPN
 United States
Latin America
 Canada OneSoccer
Eurasia countries
  •  Armenia
  •  Azerbaijan
  •  Belarus
  •  Estonia
  •  Kazakhstan
  •  Kyrgyzstan
  •  Latvia
  •  Lithuania
  •  Moldova
  •  Tajikistan
  •  Turkmenistan
  •  Uzbekistan
Setanta Sports Eurasia
 Georgia Silknet
 Hong Kong TVB
 India FanCode
 Israel Sport 1
 Macau TDM
 Philippines Tap Sports
 Poland Polsat Sport
 Portugal Sport TV
 Singapore Singtel
 Spain GOL PLAY
Sub-Saharan Africa
  •  Nigeria
  •  South Africa
  •  Kenya
  •  Ghana
StarTimes
 Turkey S Sport

- other matches also available on Sportdigital

Reserve league and Elite league

In early years the reserve league was open to all of the reserve teams from the Chinese Super League, China League One, and China League Two clubs. In 2011, the lower leagues started their own reserve league. The CSL reserve league strictly allows CSL clubs to compete, it is played at the next day of the regular league, also in home and away format, since 2018, the reserve league is held in the same venue of the regular league.

From 2014 to 2017, an elite league was held under the reserve league, restricted to players between 17 and 19 years old.

Season Reserve Champions Elite Champions
2004 Shanghai Shenhua Not Held
2005 Not Held Not Held
2006 Shandong Luneng Taishan Not Held
2007 Tianjin Teda Not Held
2008 Wuhan Guanggu Not Held
2009 Not Held Not Held
2010 Shandong Luneng Taishan Not Held
2011 Shandong Luneng Taishan Not Held
2012 Shandong Luneng Taishan Not Held
2013 Shandong Luneng Taishan Not Held
2014 Shandong Luneng Taishan Shanghai Shenhua
2015 Shandong Luneng Taishan Hangzhou Greentown
2016 Shanghai SIPG Jiangsu Suning
2017 Shandong Luneng Taishan Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao
2018 Jiangsu Suning Not Held
2019 Shandong Luneng Taishan Not Held
2020 Not Held Not Held

Youth development and Youth Super League

Since the inception of the CSL, the CFA has required all of its clubs to operate youth development, yet it was not a strict criteria until 2018. In the CSL club criteria created in 2017, clubs who could not meet the youth development programme criteria will be relegated to lower leagues.

According to the CSL club criteria, the youth teams of CSL clubs must have their own training center, coaching staff, and medical group, and a minimum of 15% of club budgets must be invested into youth programmes. CSL clubs are required to have 5 youth level teams at ages U19, U17, U15, U14 and U13. Clubs must have youth academies and introduce grassroots football plans to cooperate with local football associations, school and social corporations.

In 2017 the Youth League system was officially rebranded as Youth Super League. YSL is open to all the youth teams of all professional clubs, selected football academies and local FA training teams in China. Since 2018 the U19 Youth Super league is played with two groups of 18, a total of 36 clubs. Clubs plays home and away season with promotion and relegation introduced. The U17 and U15 Youth Super Leagues play in six regional leagues with 76 and 77 teams respectively. The U14 and U13 Youth Super leagues play in five regional leagues with 40 and 45 teams respectively.

Besides the Youth Super League, there are also other tournaments for youth teams across China, including Youth Championship plays in pre-season, Youth FA cup runs during the Youth Super League fixture, and Youth Champions Cup plays in off-season.

Season U-19/19A Champions U-19B Champions U-19C Champions U-18 Champions U-17 Champions U-16 Champions U-15 Champions U-14 Champions U-13 Champions
2004 Shanghai Shenhua Not held Not held Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Not held
2005 Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Not held Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Not held
2006 Beijing Guoan Not held Not held Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Not held
2007 Chongqing Lifan Not held Not held Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Not held
2008 Beijing Guoan Not held Not held Not held Changchun Yatai Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Not held
2009 Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Not held Not held Changchun Yatai Not held Wuhan FA Not held Not held
2010 Not held Not held Not held Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Shanghai Luckystar Not held Not held
2011 Beijing Guoan Not held Not held Not held Shanghai FA Not held Hubei FA Not held Shanghai Genbao
2012 Jiangsu FA Not held Not held Not held Liaoning FA Not held Guangzhou FA Not held Shanghai Genbao
2013 Henan Jianye Not held Not held Not held Jiangsu FA Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Not held
2014 Shanghai Shenhua Not held Not held Not held Guangzhou R&F Not held Henan Jianye Shanghai Genbao Not held
2015 Not held Not held Not held Guangdong FA Not held Jiangsu FA Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan
2016 Shaanxi FA Not held Not held Not held Jiangsu FA Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Shandong Luneng Taishan Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao
2017 Not held Not held Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Shandong Luneng Taishan Changchun Yatai Shandong Luneng Taishan
2018 Shanghai SIPG Evergrande Football School Not held Not held Shanghai Greenland Shenhua Not held Hubei FA Shandong Luneng Taishan Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao
2019 Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Shanghai Greenland Shenhua Fujian FA Not held Shandong Luneng Taishan Not held Shandong FA Shandong FA Shandong FA
2020 Not held Not held Not held Not held Not held Not held Not held Not held Not held

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Superliga de China para niños

  • Football in China
  • Chinese Football Association
  • Chinese football champions
  • Chinese football records
  • Chinese FA Cup
  • Chinese FA Super Cup
  • Chinese Jia-A League
  • China League One
  • China League Two
  • Chinese Champions League
  • List of Chinese Super League referees
kids search engine
Chinese Super League Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.