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Joint fan groups’ letter threatens Greenland with “fierce resistance” over Shenhua name change

A strongly-worded open letter jointly signed today by Shanghai Shenhua’s major fan associations has implored Greenland Group to re-instate “Shenhua” into the club’s name following a change in identity due to the club’s buy-out of Zhu Jun.

Confusion reigns in some quarters at the new moniker, “Shanghai Greenland FC, Shanghai Greenland Shenhua team” – “Shenhua” is still the team’s name. However, the vast majority of fans say that, because the club’s name no longer includes Shenhua, and is not legally registered as “Shenhua” in any form, this is an unacceptable act of disrespect towards the tradition of the club which has been referred to as Shenhua since its birth two decades ago.

News of the letter, signed by six different fan groups, came on the same day a story appeared in the Shanghai media stating that Greenland was unable to use Shenhua in the club’s legal name because Zhu Jun still owns the usage rights of the name. But no explanation for why these rights were not sold along with Zhu Jun’s 28.5% share was given.

The story appeared the same day after another piece which said Greenland chairman Zhang Yuliang personally intervened to make sure Shenhua was retained in the club’s identity somewhere alongside other stories saying the new owners had “taken ample steps to respect the wishes of the fans.”

The fans actions suggest they aren’t convinced and many fear that its a matter of time before “Shenhua” is removed from the club / team name altogether.

The letter contains the usual respectful overtures towards its recipient one would normally find in China, but apart from this uses frank language free of euphemisms. No word or reaction has yet to emerge from the Greenland camp.

To Greenland Group

First of all, we’d like to thank Greenland Group for their support and interest in Chinese and Shanghainese football, especially for efforts of this respected corporation in finally resolving the calamitous situation Shanghai Shenhua was in. For this we express admiration and appreciation.

However, in the past few days Greenland Group suddenly decided to change the name of the club to “Shanghai Greenland FC”, leaving us deeply shocked, pained and extremely resentful.

Since 1993 until now, “Shenhua” has always been the name of the club and are only one of two top-level clubs in Chinese football to retain their history and tradition in such a way and “Shenhua” is a famous brand in Chinese football. Internationally, Football has a history stretching back over 100 years, and its own objective rule of development – a respect for history and tradition. This the essence of football. Presently, Chinese football may not be all that we would like it to be, but this should not be used as an excuse to not respect this rule.

Looking back , Shenhua FC went through big owership shakeups in 2001 and 2007. And in 2001, due to Shenhua fans fierce opposition to the removal of “Shenhua” from the club’s name, this led to the name being changed to “Shanghai Shenhua SVG SMEG FC”, despite the name having already been registered as “Shanghai SVG SMEG FC”.

Over the past 20 years, Shenhua fans have experienced countless hardships and disappointments, and spent huge amounts of energy and money, fully supporting the club  without a second thought, developing and passing on the spirit of Shenhua. The name “Shenhua” bears our blood, sweat and tears, it is the focus of our youth, supporting Shenhua became a way of life for us a long time ago, Shenhua grows slowly in the soul of every fan.

In 1996, the Shenhua brand was estimated to be worth one billion RMB (Euro 120m). Since the reform and opening up of China, and with the many years of rapid economic development, this value will have risen – it’s not an exaggeration to say it may have doubled. To stop using “Shenhua” would be a huge waste of assets. We implore you to reconsider this decision.

To restate our position:

1. Continue to use “Shenhua” as part of the clubs name, the team’s name and in the club badge.

2. Retain Blue as the team’s home colour.

In addition, we earnestly request that Greenland Group listen to the fans collective wisdom by respecting Shenhua’s history and tradition, respect the wishes of the vast majority of fans, and respect the conventions of international football culture by continuing to use the “Shenhua” brand.

At the same time, not respecting the cultural conventions of football crosses the bottom line for Shenhua fans and is an action we will fiercely resist until the end

Finally, we hope Greenland Group can progress together in the year of the horse more and more.


Shanghai Shenhua Blue Devil fans club

Shanghai Shenhua Blue Boys fans association

Shanghai Shenhua All-Star Alliance fans club

Shanghai Shenhua Fortune Alliance fans association

Shanghai Shenhua Steadfast fans association

Shanghai Shenhua Flourishing Age fans club

February 10, 2014.

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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