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Drunken club owners miss Guangzhou derby

The two chairmen of Guangzhou R&F and Guangzhou Evergrande got so inebriated during a pre-match banquet that neither was able to leave the restaurant to take in their teams’ city derby last weekend, it has emerged.

According to  a story in the Chinese media, Evergrande owner Xu Jiayin and Zhang Li, his counterpart at rival club Guangzhou R&F, are the best of friends and decided to get together to enjoy a lavish meal at a luxury restaurant in the city, and intended to make their way to Tianhe stadium to watch the match together.

However, the report said that the two men “drank vigorously” for several hours, “conducting their own Guangzhou derby” during the meal, as the two property magnates got down to serious pre-match business.

Unfortunately for the wealthy pair, due to their “ceaseless toasting” of each other throughout the feast, the pair “abandoned” their plan to make their way to the stadium together, unable as they were to make it out of the front door.

An Evergrande spokesman confirmed to Sina Sports that Xu and Zhang settled for watching the match in the restaurant on TV, and denied that the drunken pair were too inebriated to make it out of the restaurant, however the Chinese internet published numerous suggestions to the contrary.

Chinese football is currently going through a period of unprecedented scrutiny as new money pours into the game and wealthy club owners come under criticism for being more interested in using the clubs to fit their own personal business agendas than a genuine passion for football.

Xu and Zhang’s alcoholic adventure has done little to dispel this image.

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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