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Chinese soccer club Wuhan folds after failing to pay players

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BEIJING — Relegated Chinese Super League club Wuhan Yangtze announced Wednesday that it is ceasing operations, a decision that comes just two months after it received a points deduction for failing to pay player salaries.

Wuhan finished 16th out of 18 teams in the 2022 season which ended in December, and said in a statement that it will not register to play in the second division for the 2023 campaign.

“The club has been representing the city of Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province in the Chinese professional football leagues for 11 consecutive seasons since 2012 in a bid to keep developing the sport,” it said.

The club has promised to settle any outstanding payments owed to staff.

The Zall Group, a property and trading company, took control of Wuhan late in 2011, and according to the statement went on to invest around $440 million in the club..

Wuhan is not the only Chinese soccer club to struggle lately, after the country’s top league rose to global prominence in the previous decade as teams lavished huge sums on recruiting famous foreign players and coaches in a bid to grow the sport.

During the 2022 season, three teams in the Chinese top league — including Wuhan — and five in the second division were hit with a points deduction for failing to pay players.

Last May, financial problems led Chongqing Liangjiang to withdraw from the league and in 2021, reigning champion Jiangsu FC folded as owner Suning looked to cut costs.

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