The Chinese Super League (CSL) has been known to shell out the big kuai for top football talent around the world.
According to the latest edition of the Global Sports Salaries Survey, which was released this month, the CSL ranks No. 11 among sports leagues worldwide and No. 6 among football leagues around the globe in terms of average salary per player. The Middle Kingdom’s burgeoning football league paid players an average salary of USD1,051,603 in 2018, exceeding leagues such as Japan’s Nippon Baseball League (NBL) and the Major League Soccer (MLS) in the US.
The top spender within the CSL was Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, which ranked as the No. 168 team across all sports worldwide for salary average, paying out USD2,190,533 on average per first-team player. Shanghai SIPG was right behind the South China powerhouse, paying their first-team squad members USD2,182,870. Meanwhile, Tianjin Quanjing and Beijing Guo’an spend nearly USD1 million less on average per player than Canton and Shanghai.
While the average may seem extraordinarily high for a Chinese sports league, the top 50 highest-paid players were either foreign footballers or have two nationalities, one of which is the PRC. Paulinho, the star center midfielder for Evergrande, leads all current CSL players with a market value of over USD48 million, according to Transfer Markt.
Paulinho. Image via Sina
The in-depth survey also notes that while Evergrande has been a dominant force in the league, winning seven of the last eight CSL championships (with SIPG putting an end to their godly run last year), the Guangzhou team is deep in the red. The report states: “Recent official financial reports of Guangzhou Evergrande have provided insight into the remarkable losses at that club,” further claiming that the league itself has shown no evidence to support that the revenue brought into the league via ticket sales, TV rights and commercial deals can cover the heavy cost of imported players typically from Europe and the Americas.
It does note that plans are in place to add a salary cap, but that isn’t expected to come to fruition for at least a few years. Even when that day comes, you can still expect CSL teams with the deepest wallets to finish on top.
[Cover image via @shallwe0317/Instagram]