HONG KONG (Reuters) - - China’s top soccer clubs have until Sunday to respond to plans to introduce a transfer levy in an attempt to curb spiralling expenditure on overseas players.
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) wrote to all 32 clubs in the nation’s top two divisions on Wednesday, outlining details of the proposed “player-transfer leverage fee”, which is due to come into effect when the Chinese Super League’s transfer window opens on Monday.
They must give feedback by the end of the weekend.
Clubs deemed to be in debt, based on accounts lodged with the CFA for the year ending 2016, who spend 45 million yuan ($6.63 million) or more on foreign imports -- or 20 million yuan on domestic signings -- will be forced to pay an equivalent amount in a levy that will be invested in youth development programmes.
Restrictions will also be put in place for players who join clubs on loan.
The CFA hopes the action will deter clubs from paying inflated fees for overseas stars and potentially jeopardising clubs’ stability.
The Asian transfer record has been broken three times in the last 18 months by Chinese clubs.
The current benchmark stands at 60 million euros ($67.67 million), reportedly paid by Shanghai SIPG to Chelsea for Brazilian star Oscar.
Top foreign players -- including England-based strikers Wayne Rooney and Diego Costa -- continue to be linked with Chinese clubs.
But there are also concerns over the amounts being spent on domestic players, with Manuel Pellegrini’s Hebei CFFC breaking the Chinese transfer record in the winter window when signing Zhang Chengdong from Beijing Guoan for 20m euros.
The levy proposal, outlined in principle in May, has been established to “limit clubs chasing short-term results and over-spending on buying new players, to regulate transfer activities both in the domestic and foreign market (and) to build a healthy environment for Chinese football”, the CFA said.
It comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping met FIFA President Gianni Infantino, pledging to improve the game in his country from basic levels and eventually win a World Cup.
Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Neville Dalton