Just months after claiming the first Chinese Super League title in club history, Jiangsu FC have ceased operations.
The club’s current owners, Suning Group, have today announced that all Chinese clubs operated by them, including 2019 WCSL champions Jiangsu Suning Women’s and all youth teams, will cease to operate effective immediately.
The shocking development comes after Suning Group announced its intentions to focus solely on its core business, leaving the future of its football endeavours up in the air.
The group have been seeking a buyer for the reigning Chinese Super League champions, who have debts in the region of 500 million RMB and were reportedly available for as low as one penny.
With no buyer at present, this would see the Chinese champions withdraw from the 2021 season, with Cangzhou Mighty Lions expected to retain their place in the top tier as a result.
With Tianjin Tigers expected to follow suit, Zhejiang Professional (formerly Greentown) would be the next club in line to take the final open spot in the Chinese Super League this season.
This is not for certain, however, as there is still an opportunity for a buyer to take control of the club and reinstate it before any registration deadlines are passed, but with the Chinese transfer window extended for a month, that buyer would need to come in quickly.
Seeing any club dissolve is a disappointing sight, with the likes of Tianjin Tianhai, Shanghai Shenxin and Liaoning FC suffering this fate in recent years, but to see a club fold just months after lifting the biggest prize in domestic football is astonishing.
Owners of clubs in China have recently opted to simply pull out funding and no longer support their endeavours, with the recent non-corporate name rule being imposed by the CFA prompting a number of ownership groups to relinquish control.
Chongqing were another club struggling to address debts after their recent name change, but support from a local government-run organisation appears to have kept them afloat, whereas the likes of Jiangsu and Tianjin Tigers have not been so lucky.
This is still a developing story and could have some further twists and turns in the coming weeks.