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.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015