Chinese clubs will face further difficulties in their attempts to spend huge sums on foreign and domestic players after the Chinese Football Association (CFA) threatened to expel those who overspend in the Chinese Super League (CSL) in a new 18-point directive.
Clubs have been warned they must be financially independent of their parent companies as the CFA seeks to reduce the large transfer fees and salaries being offered as Chinese teams engage in a race to outspend one another ahead of the start of the new season.
Oscar's move to Shanghai SIPG from Chelsea set a new Asian transfer record of €60 million, while Carlos Tevez and Axel Witsel have joined the CSL on huge salaries at time when players including Ezequiel Lavezzi and Graziano Pelle are playing in China on wages far higher than those offered by their previous clubs in Europe.
In almost every case, wealthy owners or benefactors have funded spending that far outstrips the capability of the club based on their own standalone revenues, and the CFA is desperate to rein it in.
"Professional clubs must have an independent financial system," read a CFA statement. "Clubs should operate as independent legal entities, reducing the dependence on their parent companies and shareholders' companies' financial support.
"The CFA will hire a third-party audit company to audit professional clubs, to closely inspect club's funding sources, expenses, youth investment, salary payment methods, and publish the revenue and expenditure report to the public, and remove from the register clubs with serious insolvency issues."
Clubs must regulate the amount they pay out in salaries according to their revenue, while those who spend heavily in the transfer market face having to make additional payments to support youth development. Clubs that run at a deficit for three years in a row, meanwhile, face the threat of expulsion from the league.
The move comes after the CFA issued a directive earlier this week that sought to crack down on the number of foreign players allowed to be fielded in CSL games, with the federation now saying there could be further changes to those regulations.
Monday's original statement said only three foreign players would be allowed to play on any given matchday, while clubs must also field at least one player under the age of 23. Thursday's statement, however, said that could change again, with the age reduced to under 21 or under 22.
The statement also said clubs who gain promotion to the CSL from China League One must have under-19, U17 and U15 youth teams as the CFA seeks to push professional clubs to do more to develop the country's young players.
"In summary, professional leagues are the engineers of football development," the statement concluded. "The aforementioned policies will work on critical issues relating to the health of professional leagues. It will benefit the consistent development of clubs."