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Shenhua to leave Shanghai for CFA cup, and possibly entire 2012 season

Leaving a purpose built football-specific stadium - Hongkou

Shanghai Shenhua has outraged its support by announcing it will play its CFA cup games this season in the city of Wuhu in Anhui province. The club confirmed the plan on its offical weibo, and Sina Sports quoted anonymous figures who said moves were afoot to have Shenhua play all of its games in the city next season.

The report also quoted a local government offical who demonstrated his utter lack of understanding of football culture, by saying Shenhua did “not only belong to Shenhua fans, but to the fans from all over the entire country.” The official said preparation work was underway and that Wuhu was warmly welcoming Shenhua to the city’s Olympic Stadium for its match in the CFA cup against Yanbian of the second tier China League, on September 21.

The CFA cup was resuscitated this year after an absence of five years because of a lack of sponsorship, and, allegedly, a lack of space in the fixture calendar due to the Olympics, an event which lasted only a few weeks.

Shenhua recieved a bye to the quarter finals on account of being one of China’s four represenatives in the Asian Champions League this season. Interestingly, the CFA cup winners will recieve direct entry into the ACL, instead of this year’s 4th placed Chinese Super League team. So, the CFA represents the only realistic way into the continental competition for Shenhua, who are in the midst of a record-breaking 8-game winless streak and having their worst season since 2004.

Word on the Hongkou terrace is that whilst the deal has been struck for Shenhua to play its CFA cup games there (which may only be one match should they be beaten by Yanbian), one Blue Devil simply said when asked about the prospect of Shenhua playing in Wuhu next year,  “I don’t think that is going to happen” and said there was nothing to worry about.

Nevertheless, under-fire Shenhua owner Zhu Jun has once more seriously disrespected the fans by moving the only remaining games in which Shenhua has anything to play for this season, to a city nowhere near Shanghai, and surely now Zhu Jun has cemented his status as a hate figure amongst the entire support, if he was not already.

UK trained journalist and long-time Chinese football observer Cameron Wilson has been writing about Chinese football for over a decade...

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Steve

    18/08/2011 at 23:35

    Wow. As you say, “only in the CSL”. Or maybe “only outside of Europe” — don’t wish to sound snobbish, but it’s an awful lot easier to treat teams as franchises rather than social clubs when theytypically have a history of 20 years in a city rather than 120.

    Couldn’t the Wuhan government have done a bit better and paid some backhanders to get themselves a half-decent team at least, though?

    • Yiddo Huayi

      19/08/2011 at 00:48

      And clearly having an established paying fan base doesn’t actually mean much in this franchise model (play things for the ver rich?).

      • Steve

        19/08/2011 at 05:40

        Well… While cheap live football is a wonderful thing, the cheapness of tickets could in itself be a problem with having an “established fan base” — if everyone is paying about 20 kuai for a ticket, there’s no way the club can be covering it’s costs on that — so does it really matter what the fans think?

        And while the fans who do regularly go to the games make for a fantastic atmosphere and, last game possibly aside, have struck me as far more vocal and supportive than a lot of supporters back home — less than 20k isn’t a great regular attendance for the only top-flight team in a city of Shanghai’s size.

        Going on massive losing streaks and playing temporary home games in another city aren’t proven ways to get the fans flooding back in though… What to do?

        • Anonymous

          22/08/2011 at 14:30

          WEF_Editor
          The club are probably thinking that after a long and shit season no-one is gonna turn up for the CFA cup, since its not as prestigious a tournament as the CSL in the fans eyes – that is the CFAs fault for cancelling it for the last 5 years. Shenhua are very poorly supported no doubt, but a decent owner who put some cash into the club and brought in at least one or two star players would make a difference, right now Shenhua have a laughably threadbare squad.

        • bcheng

          23/08/2011 at 04:18

          Whether they have 10,000 or 50,000, Chinese tickets are at prices that the club has no way to support themselves from tickets alone, in fact, it’s highly unlikely there’s a team in the league making money, so fans don’t matter. That said, Shanghai is Shanghai, you cannot seriously have a domestic league in China without a club in Shanghai.

          If this is only a one off thing, it doesn’t matter that much, I can’t imagine Shanghai getting a big attendance for a midweek match against a lower division side, even if it is a quarterfinal.

  2. Joe

    19/08/2011 at 03:10

    I’ve heard rumors that the dates have been moved up, but according to Sina, the next round will be played on November 20. Also, if Shenhua beat Yanbian, they’d need Shaanxi to beat Tianjin to have another home match.

  3. Damian

    19/08/2011 at 15:21

    Can’t blame them. Shanghai has a population of 20,000 but can only average 10-12,000 gates. Pathetic.

  4. Damian

    19/08/2011 at 15:22

    Whoops, I mean 20 million.

  5. Charlie

    22/08/2011 at 12:57

    What a fucking disgrace. This can never be allowed to happen. Shanghai had 3 teams originally: One folded, one was “moved” to xian and Shenhua is all that is left. Whilst i agree that the city seems largely disinterested in football and apathetic towards Shenhua – what happens to the 20,000 hardcore that do care and go to games home and away, does the 傻屄 who has come up with this plan think they can afford to go and watch them there or that they will go watch Hangzhou or Naning instead. I really am angry at teh suggestion that this may possibly be long term. Chinese football, with the emergence of multimillion pound signings, sponsorship and a “franchise” ideal, is following its European cousins – straight to the dogs.

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