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The Chinese Football Association Super League (simplified Chinese: 中国足球协会超级联赛), commonly known as Chinese Super League (中超联赛) or CSL, is the highest tier of professional football in the People's Republic of Chinamarker, operating under the auspices of the Chinese Football Association.

The Super League was created by the rebranding of the former top division Chinese Football Association Jia A League in 2004. (See Chinese Jia-A League, not to be confused with Chinese Football Association Jia League, which is the current second tier league.)

Originally contested by 12 teams in the inaugural year, the league has been expanding. There are 16 teams in the current season. The title has been won by four teams: Shenzhen Jianlibao, Dalian Shide, Shandong Luneng, and Changchun Yatai. The current Super League champions are Shandong Luneng.

Promotion and relegation take place between the Super League and the second tier China League One. There were no relegation in the first 2 seasons of the league in a bid to expand the league. Chongqing Lifan became the first team to be relegated in 2006 after finishing bottom of the table for 3 consecutive seasons.


Competition format

Unlike in many top European leagues, the CSL starts at February-March and ends at November-December. In each season, each club plays each of the other clubs twice, once at home and another away. In 2004, there were 12 clubs in the Super League, so the teams played 22 games each for a total of 132 games in the season. In 2005, there were 14 clubs in the league, so the teams played 26 games each for a total of 182 games in the season. With 15 teams in the league in 2006 and, each team had to play 28 games in the season for 210 games in total.

From 2008 onwards, at the end of each season the two lowest placed teams are relegated into the Chinese Football Association Jia League and the top two teams from the Jia League are promoted in their place.

The top-3 of the league, as well as the winner of the Chinese FA Cup, qualify for the AFC Champions League of the next year. If FA Cup finalist finish the league 3rd or higher, the 4th of the league will take the Champions League spot. But FA Cup had been paused since 2007, so top-4 of the league participate the AFC Champions League for CSL.


The first title sponsor of the league was Siemens. Following a controversial first season, Siemens did not renew its multi-million dollars sponsorship of the league. The start of the second season in 2005 had to be delayed a month in order to find new sponsors. When no title sponsor was found the League was simply called Chinese Football Association Super League.

Foreign players

Professional footballers in China receive relatively high salaries both when compared to other Chinese sports leagues and football leagues in other countries. As a result, numerous players from Serbiamarker, Brazilmarker, Hondurasmarker, and other Latin American regions make up the foreign players in the Chinese league. The league has rules, however, restricting the number of foreign players strictly to five per team, includes a slot for player from AFC countries. A team could use four foreigner players on the field each game including the player from the AFC country. This is also to promote native players to do better and improve and to conform to rules in place regarding international club competitions in the AFC.


The CSL was founded in 2004 as a replacement for the previous Division 1 (Jia A, or 甲A) league, with 12 teams in the league. The inaugural season was plagued with grave controversy.

The original plan was to have one relegation and two promotions for the 2004 season and 2005 season, thus increasing the number of teams in 2006 to 14. But the FA's decisions caused the relegations to be cancelled for these 2 years.

For the 2005 season, the league expanded to 14 teams after Wuhan Huanghelou and Zhuhai Zhongbang won promotion from the Jia League. The Zhuhaimarker team, formerly Zhuhai Anping, had been bought by the Shanghai Zhongbang real estate company and relocated to Shanghai for the 2005 season, and subsequently renamed to Shanghai Zobon.

In 2006, the league was planned to expand to 16 teams with the newly promoted Xiamen Lanshi and Changchun Yatai, however, Sichuan Guancheng withdrew before the start of the season, leaving only 15 teams when the season started on March 11th. Shanghai Liancheng Zobon after another change of ownership was renamed Shanghai United F.C.

In 2007, the league was planned to be expanded to 16 teams as well but once again, it found itself 1 team short. Shanghai United F.C.'s owner, Zhu Jun bought a major share from local rival Shanghai Shenhua and merged the 2 teams. As a result, Shanghai Shenhua retained its name as it already had a strong fanbase in the city, while Shanghai United F.C. was pulled out from the league.

Super League 2009 clubs

Club Chinese name Home stadium Capacity Seasons in CSL Best finish Worst finish Spell in level 1
Beijing Guoan 北京国安 Workers Stadiummarker 62,000 2004 to 2009 2nd, 2007 7th, 2004 from 1991
Changchun Yatai 长春亚泰 Development Area Stadium 25,000 2006 to 2009 1st, 2007 6th, 2008 from 2006
Changsha Ginde 长沙金德 Helong Stadiummarker 55,000 2004 to 2009 8th, 2004 13th, 2005 & 2006 from 1998
Chengdu Blades 成都谢菲联 Chengdu Sports Centermarker 36,225 2008 to 2009 13th, 2008 from 2008
Chongqing Lifan 重庆力帆 Yanghe Stadium (to round 10)

Chongqing Olympic Sports Centermarker (since round 11)

2004 to 2006, 2009 12th, 2004 15th, 2006 from 2009
Dalian Shide 大连实德 Jinzhou Stadiummarker 30,775 2004 to 2009 1st, 2005 14th, 2008 from 1990
Guangzhou GPC 广州医药 Yuexiushan Stadiummarker 30,000 2008 to 2009 7th, 2008 from 2008
Hangzhou Greentown 杭州绿城 Yellow Dragon Sports Centermarker 52,672 2007 to 2009 9th, 2008 11th, 2007 from 2007
Henan Construction 河南建业 Hanghai Stadiummarker 29,000 2007 to 2009 10th, 2008 12th, 2007 from 2007
Jiangsu Sainty 江苏舜天 Nanjing Olympic Sports Centermarker 61,443 2009 from 2009
Qingdao Jonoon 青岛中能 Qingdao Tiantai Stadiummarker 20,525 2004 to 2009 7th, 2005 14th, 2006 from 1997
Shaanxi Chan-Ba 陕西浐灞 Shaanxi Coca-Cola Stadiummarker 47,565 2004 to 2009 3rd, 2004 13th, 2007 from 2002
Shandong Luneng 山东鲁能 Shandong Provincial Stadiummarker 43,700 2004 to 2009 1st, 2006 & 2008 3rd, 2005 & 2007 from 1994
Shanghai Shenhua 上海申花 Hongkou Stadiummarker 33,060 2004 to 2009 2nd, 2005, 2006, 2008 10th, 2004 from 1982
Shenzhen Asia Travel 深圳亚旅 Shenzhen Stadiummarker 32,500 2004 to 2009 1st, 2004 14th, 2007 from 1998
Tianjin Teda 天津泰达 TEDA Football Stadiummarker 36,390 2004 to 2009 4th, 2005 & 2008 6th, 2004, 2006 & 2007 from 1999

Former Super League clubs

Club Chinese name Seasons in CSL Best finish Worst finish Current status
Liaoning Whowin 辽宁宏运 2004 to 2008 4th, 2004 15th, 2008 China League One
Shanghai United 上海联城 2005 to 2007 7th, 2006 11th, 2005 Merged with Shanghai Shenhua
Sichuan First City 四川冠城 2004 to 2005 9th, 2004 & 2005 9th, 2004 & 2005 Defunct
Wuhan Optics Valley 武汉光谷 2005 to 2008 5th, 2005 16th, 2008 Defunct
Xiamen Blue Lions 厦门蓝狮 2006 to 2007 8th, 2006 15th, 2007 Defunct

Super League champions

Season Winners Runners-up Third-place
2004 Shenzhen Jianlibao Shandong Luneng Inter Shanghai
2005 Dalian Shide Shanghai Shenhua Shandong Luneng
2006 Shandong Luneng Shanghai Shenhua Beijing Guoan
2007 Changchun Yatai Beijing Guoan Shandong Luneng
2008 Shandong Luneng Shanghai Shenhua Beijing Guoan
2009 Beijing Guoan Changchun Yatai Henan Jianye

Top scorers

Season Top scorer Club Goals
2004 Kwame Ayew Inter Shanghai 17
2005 Branko Jelić Beijing Guoan 21
2006 Li Jinyu Shandong Luneng 26
2007 Li Jinyu Shandong Luneng 15
2008 Éber Luís Tianjin Teda 14
2009 Ramírez Guangzhou GPC 17
Barcos Shenzhen Asia Travel 17

Reserve League champions

In Jia-A period, the reserve League was called "Olympic League" or "Coca-Cola League", there was no reserve league in 2004 & 2005 CSL season. and resumes in 2006, the league opens to all of the reserve teams from CSL and China League clubs.
Season Winners
2006 Shandong Luneng
2007 Tianjin Teda
2008 Wuhan Optics Valley

Youth League champions

Like the Reserve League, the Adidas Youth League is opend to youth teams of all professional clubs. It was called Nike league in 2005.
Season U-19 Champions U-17 Champions U-15 Champions
2004 Shanghai Shenhua Shandong Luneng Shandong Luneng
2005 Shandong Luneng Shandong Luneng Shandong Luneng
2006 Beijing Guoan Shandong Luneng Shandong Luneng
2007 Chongqing Lifan Shandong Luneng Shandong Luneng
2008 Beijing Guoan Changchun Yatai Shandong Luneng
2009 Shandong Luneng Changchun Yatai Wuhan FA

See also


  1. 中超联赛简介-搜狐体育

External links

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