Today the CSL announced a tentative plan for resuming the league within the next six weeks or so, cutting down the number of games since the competition should have started nearly three months ago due to the corona virus.
Things are a little complicated however. The 16 clubs have been divided into two groups – one based on those who finished in an even-number placing last year, and the other on an odd number.
Guangzhou Evergrande, Jiangsu Suning, Shandong Luneng, Henan Construction, Guangzhou R&F, Shanghai Shenhua, and Shenzhen FC
Beijing Guoan, Shanghai SIPG, Wuhan Zall, Tianjin Teda, Chongqing Lifan, Hebei China Fortunate, Qingdao Huanghai, and Shijiazhuang Everbright.
Phase 1: Teams are separated by group, all the teams will play each other home & away for a total of 14 matches to determine the standings.
Phase 2A: This is where it gets complicated. Groups are not broken up, the top 4 teams & bottom 4 teams from each group will be divided up. The games will be A1-A4 (let’s call the winner of this Alpha1), A2-A3 (Alpha2), A5-A8 (Alpha3), A6-A7 (Alpha 4). The same structure will exist in Group B and we’ll use similar naming for the next stage. This will be a head-to-head, home & away round. At the end of 2A, teams will be divided up based on winners and losers combining Groups A & B: 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, and 13-16.
Phase 2B & 2C: Treat these stages as semi-finals and finals for Number 1, 5, 9, and 13 finishes. Groups are broken up, Alpha1 will play Beta2 and Alpha2 will play Beta1 home & away, the same being true for each of the other three “groups”. From there we move on to the final stage, Phase 2C, with the winners from Alpha 1/Beta 2 v. Alpha 2/Beta 1 and the losers playing each other home & away to determine the final standings. Of those final eight matches, only two will matter, to determine the champion and third place (for the ACL).
The end result will cut the CSL season from 30 to 20 matches. It will also somewhat limit travel in the early stages with a lot of teams clumped together (though not in the most ideal North/South division). No official start date has been announced but it is expected the season will kick off in late June/early July.