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Greentown forced out of Hangzhou

Under renovation again - Huanglong Stadium, Hangzhou

As is customary, the new season’s Chinese Super League fixture list threw up some interesting anomalies, not least of which was the fact that Hangzhou Greentown will not play any Chinese Super League games in the city which bears its name this year. Instead, it will play its home matches in other Zhejiang province cities, namely Jiaxing and Yiwu.

A rather bizarre development, it has to be said, considering the team renamed itself from Zhejiang Greentown to Hangzhou Greentown just two years ago. So what is behind these curious goings-on?

According to this Hangzhou Daily article, the reason for Greentown’s move is that its home ground, Huanglong stadium, will be refurbished this year for the 8th annual Disabled People’s Games to be held at the facility this October. The article goes on to describe the club’s embarassment at having to switch venues so late. But like most Chinese news articles, it poses more questions than it answers.

It doesn’t explain why Hangzhou will still be playing all its ACL games at Huanglong stadium, nor why the decision to switch homeground was made only a fortnight before the season began. The Chinese government likes building and refurbishing things, indeed Greentown previously found themselves banished from Huanglong stadium to Yiwu in 2007 so it could be rennovated for the Women’s World cup that year.

Aparently, just three years later, its time to call in the builders again.

Although Hangzhou Greentown are playing at a municipally-owned stadium, one would hope that since they are regular tennants, and the most prominent sporting representatives of their city, the club would get some kind of favourable treatment from the powers-that-be. But this is the Chinese Super League we are talking about, where convenience for fans and actively helping to build support bases in local communities are alien concepts. So, if you are based in Hangzhou and hoping to catch your local team this year, best start checking the bus timetables for Yiwu, and Jiaxing, which is almost nearer to the edge of Shanghai city limits than it is to Hangzhou.

Thanks to reader Alexander for prompting this post.

A leading international commentator on Chinese football frequently quoted by the world's top media. Offers piercing and resolutely honest insights into the bustling crossroads where football, society, economics and politics meet in contemporary China. Based in Shanghai since 2005, observer of the Chinese game since 2000.



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