The China Super League is one of Asia’s leading football leagues. Along with the fast-rising Saudi Pro
League (Saudi Arabia), the China Super League aims at rivalling the top football leagues on the global
stage including the English Premier League, Germany Bundesliga, France Ligue, 1, Spain La Liga and
Italy Serie A. The financial pull of the China Super League has contributed the most in elevating the
status of the league on the global stage as some of the top footballing stars now ply their trade in
China’s top-tier professional football league The China Super League in some circles is also referred
to as the Chinese Football Association Super League, Chinese Super League or simply CSL. For
sponsorship reasons, the current league (2023 season) is known as the China Plug An Chinese
Football Association Super League.
Overview and Brief Background
The China Super League is in its 19th year of existence having been founded in 2004. The China Super
League came about following the rebranding of the Chinese Jia-A League. The immense rise and
wide popularity of the league in recent times is a testament to the incredible work which the league
organisers, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) are doing.
Just to put into perspective the popularity of the China Super League, the league’s average
attendance figures feature in the top 10 of all domestic professional leagues in the world. In the
2018 season, the league recorded an average attendance of 24,107. The league still averages this
high number of attendees every match day.
When the league was founded in 2004, it had 12 teams. However, that number has increased over
the years to 16. The Chinese Super League season runs every year starting in either February or
March up to November or December.
The 16 teams in the China Super League play each other twice in one season. One of the matches is
played at Team A’s home ground and the reverse fixture is played at Team B’s home ground. Each
season, it means that one team plays a total of 30 matches with eight matches taking place every
round. The whole season will see a total of 240 matches played.
In each fixture, there are three possible results. A team can either win, lose or draw a match. A win
rewards the winning team with 3 points. A draw rewards both teams with 1 point each. A loss results
in 0 points for the losing team. At the end of the season, the team that has the most points will win
the league title. The league winner as well as the teams that finish second and third respectively
automatically qualify for the following season’s AFC Champions League. The three teams are joined
by the winner of the Chinese FA Cup hence bringing the total number of Chinese teams in the AFC
Champions League to four.
In case two or more teams finish the season with the same number of points, the following
tiebreakers are used in the exact order:
The team with the highest goal difference is placed first
The team with the highest number of goals scored in matches between the tied teams is
The team whose reserve team accumulated the most points in the reserve league is placed
The team whose U19 developmental side accumulated the most points in the U19 league is
Team with the highest Fair Play points (3 points deducted for each red card and 1 point for
each yellow card)
Draw by lots.
*The two teams with the lowest number of points are relegated to the China League One which is
the second tier of Chinese professional league. Inversely, the China League One title winner and the
runner-up are promoted to the China Super League.
Top 5 Teams
Guangzhou Evergrande: The first Chinese club to win 7 professional league titles on the
bounce. The feat was achieved in 2017. Guangzhou Evergrande is also two-time AFC
Champions League winners
Shanghai SIPG: Fierce rivals to Guangzhou Evergrande who broke the latter’s dominance in
2018 and won the league. The 2018 title remains Shanghai SIPG’s only league title to date.
However, it's in pole position on the current 2023 league standings hence it's to be seen if
the team will keep the momentum and claim a second league title
Shandong Taishan: Boasts the second most titles after Guangzhou Evergrande having won
four titles. However, three of those were won back in 2006, 2008 and 2010. The team’s
latest title was won in 2021.
Beijing Guaon: Beijing Guaon are the Chinese Super League perennial bridesmaid. The team
has just one league title to its name which it won in 2009 but has come second a record four
times. Beijing Guaon failed to win the league in the last stage in 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2019.
Wuhan Three Towns: Wuhan Three Towns is the current league holders. The team’s 2022
league win was the first in its history. There is a growing consensus that the win will propel
the team to greater heights and become a part of the multi-league winners.
The team that has won the most league titles in the Chinese Super League is Guangzhou Evergrande
which has won 7 league titles. The most impressive thing about the league titles is that they all came
on the bounce one after the other starting in 2011 up to 2017.
Interesting Facts About the China Super League
The record buy in the Chinese Super League is 60 million British sterling pounds which
Shanghai SIPG paid Chelsea to secure the services of Oscar
The record sell in the Chinese Super League is 40 million British sterling pounds which
Guangzhou Evergrande received after selling Paulinho to Spanish giants Barcelona
The record domestic transfer record for Chinese players is 15 million yen which Beijing
Guaon received for selling Chinese international Zhang Chengdong to Hebei China Fortune
The China Super League restricts the number of foreign players each team can possess to
four but only three can feature at a time in a match
Elkesson holds the record for the most goals scored having scored 123 goals in 191
Yang Zhi holds the record for the most appearances in the Chinese Super League – 350