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Only in the CSL: Soccer by Committee, Wenzhou Private Lending, Difficult Days for Hangzhou

Some of the committee of seven

When even Chinese media starts referring to the “Cultural Revolution” and “Red Guards”, you know you aren’t going down the right path. Such is the situation in Hangzhou these days, manager Wu Jingui has been removed from the picture due to “illness” and the team is now being run by a committee of seven players, with Du Wei heading it.

Before last match, the “Committee of Seven” had to deal with a bit of internal conflict in selecting the squad. With a number of players out injured, it came down to a 5-2 vote between two starting lineups. There is even talk of a “Shanghai bloc” inside the committee, with the likes of Du Wei and Sun Ji playing an active role in it. Sun was quoted as saying that this experience of voting is a foreign one, but with multiple committee members, it is the fairest way to decide before submitting the final choice to the owner.

The owner being Song Weiping, who is very active in the process. Song argues that this was his way to deal with all the internal disputes, arguments, and contradictions that have formed within his side. He hopes that after having to do the manager’s job themselves, the players will have a better understanding of the unique difficulties of it and will have a greater appreciation for their manager.

That’s one way of looking at it. Another, far more realistic viewpoint is that this is Song’s effort to run off Wu Jingui without having to fire him. The media has been full of reports about the impending crash of the Wenzhou private lending network. Wenzhou is famous for having smart businessmen and much of the local economy is based on high-rate, short-term loans that are outside the traditional banking system. It’s said that around 60% of local businesses and almost all households in the city that have taken loans do so through the private loan market, meaning if only a few big businesses crash, the whole system collapses. Greentown is said to be active in this system and the current problems are leading to financial difficulties for the football club.

This isn’t the first time financial problems have been brought up around Greentown, there were also earlier rumors that Hainan Airlines was looking to buy the club. If the club isn’t sold off, then many of the better (and more expensive) players are likely to be on the way out. The Shanghai clique of Du, Sun, and Shen Longyuan, who were part of Shenhua’s massive sell off, could be part of another one this winter. Also, it’s quite possible the likes of Bari Mamital, Wang Song, and Rong Hao will all find themselves looking for new clubs in the offseason. Hangzhou fans, who must have been getting excited about having their team back in Hangzhou, now must be wondering what their side will look like next year. At the same time, in comparison to Song, Zhu Jun looks like he’s a capable owner.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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