Chinese Super League
Formed: 1994 (as Jia-A League)
Number of Teams: 16
Relegation to: China League One
Domestic Cups: Chinese FA Cup
Current Champions: Shandong Luneng
Most number of Championships: Shandong Luneng (3)
The Chinese Super League was born when the Chinese Jia-A League was re-branded in 2004.
The history of the Jia-A League dates back to before the 1980′s when clubs in the China National League were owned by the local Physical Culture and Sports Committees, Sports Institutes and Army Sports Units. Factory owned teams were forbidden from entering the National League.
In the 80′s, however, the CFA encouraged those factories and companies to sponsor the Government-owned clubs, with Guangdong, Beijing, Guangzhou and Tianjin receiving large sponsorships.
In 1986 the CFA founded a semi-professional league, which was split into two levels in 1987 – Jia-A (8 teams) and Jia-B (12 teams). The 8 teams in Jia-A were:
- Liaoning Dongyao
- Tianjing Seagull
- Shanghai Shenzhou
- August First
- Beijing Snowflakes
- Guangzhou Baiyunshan
- Hubei Energy
In the early 1990′s the CFA allowed enterprises to purchase and manage football clubs, something that was previously forbidden. In 1992 the CFA announced a professional league would start in 1994 and ordered all Jia-A clubs to make the move to full professionalism in time for the start of the league and Jia-B teams must reform to a professional structure by 1995.
The Jia-A League existed for 10 years before the move to the CSL in 2003 and in those ten years, Dalian won 7 of the 10 Championships.
When the CSL kicked off in 2004, it did so with 12 teams and over the years has expanded to 16 teams, however the road to 16 teams has been a rocky one. The original plan was to have one relegation and two promotions for the 2004 and 2005 seasons, thus seeing 14 teams in 2006.
However, the relegations were cancelled and 2005 saw the league increase to 14 teams after Wuhan Huanghelou and Zhuhai Zhongbang won promotion. In 2006 it was planned to expand the league to 16 teams with the promotion of Xiamen Lanshi and Changchun Yatai, but before the season started Sichuan Guancheng withdrew leaving the league with only 15 teams.
Again in 2007 the plan to expand to 16 teams failed when Shanghai United merged with Shanghai Shenhua. United’s owner Zhu Jun bought a major stake in Shenhua and merged the teams, which saw United pulled from the league and the league back to 15 teams.
The league was rocked in 2009 and 2010 with a series of corruption and match-fixing allegations plaguing the league. The saga saw two teams (Guangzhou and Chengdu) relegated from the CSL and a number of referees and top officials arrested and banned for their part in the corruption.
In 2011 the league received a large cash injection from Real Estate group Dalian Wanda (previous owners of Dalian Shide), aimed at improving the league structure, youth development and refereeing.
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