Chinese Super League
|Number of teams||16|
|Levels on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||China League One|
|Domestic cup(s)||Chinese FA Cup|
|International cup(s)||AFC Champions League
|Current champions||Guangzhou Evergrande
(2012, Second title)
|Most championships||Shandong Luneng
|2013 Chinese Super League|
The Chinese Football Association Super League (Chinese: 中国足球协会超级联赛; pinyin: Zhōngguó Zúqiú Xiéhuì Chāojí Liánsài), commonly known as Chinese Super League (中超联赛) or CSL, currently known as the Wanda Plaza Chinese Football Association Super League for sponsorship reasons, is the highest tier of professional association football in China, operating under the auspices of the Chinese Football Association (CFA).
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 six teams: Shenzhen Jianlibao, Dalian Shide, Shandong Luneng, Changchun Yatai, Beijing Guoan,and Guangzhou Evergrande. The current Super League champions are Guangzhou Evergrande.
Unlike in many top European leagues, the Chinese Super League starts in February or March (spring in China) and ends in November or December (early winter). In each season, each club plays each of the other clubs twice, once at home and another away. The current system, with 16 clubs in the Super League, so the teams played 30 games each for a total of 240 games in the season.
The two lowest placed teams by the end of the season are relegated to the China League One and the top two teams from the League One are promoted, taking their places.
The top three of the league, as well as the winner of the Chinese FA Cup, qualify for the AFC Champions League of the next year. If the FA Cup finalists finish the league 3rd or higher, 4th place in the league will take the Champions League spot.
Foreign players 
Professional footballers in China receive relatively high salaries when compared to other Chinese sports leagues and football leagues in other countries. As a result, numerous players from Serbia, Brazil, Honduras, and other Latin American regions are signed as the foreign players in the Chinese league. The league has rules, however, restricting the number of foreign players strictly to five per team, including a slot for a player from AFC countries. A team could use a maximum of four foreign players on the field each game. This is to promote native player improvement and to conform to rules regarding international club competitions in the AFC.
Players from Hong Kong, Macau and Chinese Taipei are deemed as native players in CSL. Hong Kong players were considered foreigners at the beginning of 2009 but the league hold back the change in summer transfer. After 2010 season, players from Hong Kong Macau and Taiwan were not considered foreigners in CSL matches, but will be regarded as foreigners in AFC competitions. During the middle of the 2012 season, it was decided that teams that were competing in the AFC Champions League were allowed to have to extra foreign players, which can bring the number of foreigners on a team's roster to seven.
|2001–2003||4||3||In 2001, foreign goalkeepers were restricted to play in matches.|
|2004–2006||3||2||After 2006, players from Hong Kong, Macau and Chinese Taipei were not considered as foreign players.|
|2009–||4+1||3+1||"+1" is Asian quota, which means teams can add a player from Asia that isn't from any regions outside from the region.|
In 1994, the Chinese Jia-A League became the country's first professional football league. On October 29, 2000, Yan Shiduo, vice-president of the Chinese Football Association, talked about setting up a new professional league system. In 2002, the CFA made a decision to establish the Chinese Super League, which started in 2004.
Compared to the Jia-A, the CSL is a lot more demanding on teams. The CFA and CSL committee imposed a range of minimum criteria to ensure professional management and administration, financial probity, and a youth development program at every club. The second division, China League One, was also re-established under a new system. Besides the regular professional league, the CSL also has a reserve league, U-19 league, U-17 league and an U-15 league.
The CSL and China League One's goals are to promote high quality and high-level competition; introduce advanced managerial concepts to the market; enforce the delivery of minimum standards of professionalism; encourage the influx of more higher quality foreign coaches and players; and gradually establish the European system for player registrations and transfers.
The first CSL season began in 2004, with 12 teams in the league. The inaugural season was plagued with controversy, which continued from the former league, Jia-A. After 1998, scandals such as match fixing and gambling were uncovered. This resulted in loss of interest in the domestic game, low attendances and great financial losses.
The original plan was to have one relegated team and two promoted teams for the 2004 season and 2005 season, thus increasing the number of teams in 2006 to 14. But the CFA'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 China League One. The Zhuhai 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 11. Shanghai Liancheng Zobon, after another change of ownership, was renamed Shanghai United.
In 2007, the league was again planned to be expanded to 16 teams, but once again it found itself one team short. Shanghai United's owner, Zhu Jun, bought a major share in local rival Shanghai Shenhua and merged the two teams. As a result, Shanghai Shenhua retained its name as it already had a strong fanbase in the city, while Shanghai United pulled out of the league.
In 2008, the season started with 16 clubs participating for the first time, however Wuhan protested against punishments made by the CFA after a match against Beijing Guo'an, and announced its immediate withdrawal from the league, which left the season to finish with 15 clubs.
Since 2009, the league has run with 16 stable clubs participating in each year. Two are relegated to China League One, and two promoted from China League One each season.
In 2010, the CSL was beset by a scandal going right to the top of the CFA. The Chinese government took nationwide action against football gambling, match-fixing and corruption, and former CFA vice presidents Xie Yalong, Nan Yong and Yang Yimin were arrested.
In 2011, the anti-corruption movement had visibly improved the image of the CSL, with increases to attendance. Clubs such as Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai Shenhua began investing heavily in foreign stars. After former Fluminense midfielder Darío Conca transferred in 2011, Some noticeable signings during the 2012 seasons include former Chelsea forward Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, former Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita and Fábio Rochemback, former Sevilla forward Frédéric Kanouté, former Blackburn Rovers forward Yakubu Aiyegbeni and former Borussia Dortmund forward Lucas Barrios. Former Japanese national team coach Takeshi Okada took up the reins as the new coach of Hangzhou Greentown, former Argentina national team coach Sergio Batista replaced Jean Tigana as Shanghai Shenhua's head coach, and former Italy national team and Juventus manager Marcello Lippi replaced Lee Jang-Soo as Guangzhou Evergrande's head coach.
Chinese Jia-A League seasons and champions 
Chinese Super League seasons and champions 
Most successful clubs 
|Club||Champions||Runners-Up||Winning Seasons||Runners-Up Seasons|
||1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005|
||1999, 2006, 2008, 2010||2004|
||1995||1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008|
||2009||1995, 2007, 2011|
Current clubs 
|Club||Chinese name||Home stadium||Capacity||Seasons in CSL||Best finish||Worst finish||Spell in level 1||Top Division Titles (Overall)||Top Division Titles (Professional)||Last Title|
|Beijing Guoan||北京国安||Workers Stadium||66,161||2004 - 2013||1st, 2009||7th, 2004||from 1991||8||1||2009|
|Changchun Yatai||长春亚泰||Development Area Stadium||25,000||2006 - 2013||1st, 2007||9th, 2010||from 2006||1||1||2007|
|Dalian Aerbin||大连阿尔滨||Jinzhou Stadium||30,775||2012 - 2013||5th, 2012||5th, 2012||from 2012||0||0||－|
|Guangzhou Evergrande||广州恒大||Tianhe Stadium||60,151||2008 - 2009, 2011 - 2013||1st, 2011, 2012||9th, 2009||from 2011||2||2||2012|
|Guangzhou R&F||广州富力||Yuexiushan Stadium||18,000||2004 - 2010，2012 - 2013||7th, 2012||16th, 2010||from 2012||0||0||－|
|Guizhou Renhe||贵州人和||Guiyang Olympic Sports Center||51,636||2004 - 2013||3rd, 2004||13th, 2007||from 2002||0||0||－|
|Hangzhou Greentown||杭州绿城||Yellow Dragon Sports Center||52,672||2007 - 2013||4th, 2010||15th, 2009||from 2007||0||0||－|
|Jiangsu Sainty||江苏舜天||Nanjing Olympic Sports Center||61,443||2009 - 2013||2nd, 2012||11th, 2010||from 2009||0||0||－|
|Liaoning Whowin||辽宁宏运||Tiexi New District Sports Center||30,000||2004 - 2008, 2010 - 2013||3rd, 2011||15th, 2008||from 2010||8||0||1993|
|Qingdao Jonoon||青岛中能||Qingdao Tiantai Stadium||20,525||2004 - 2013||6th, 2011||14th, 2006, 2010||from 1997||0||0||－|
|Shandong Luneng||山东鲁能||Luneng Stadium||56,808||2004 - 2013||1st, 2006, 2008, 2010||12th, 2012||from 1994||4||4||2010|
|Shanghai Shenhua||上海申花||Hongkou Football Stadium||33,060||2004 - 2013||2nd, 2005, 2006, 2008||11th, 2011||from 1982||3||1||2003|
|Shanghai Shenxin||上海申鑫||Yuanshen Sports Centre Stadium||16,000||2010 - 2013||13th, 2010||15th, 2012||from 2010||0||0||－|
|Shanghai SIPG||上海上港||Shanghai Stadium||56,842||2013 -||－||－||from 2013||0||0||－|
|Tianjin Teda||天津泰达||Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium||54,696||2004 - 2013||2nd, 2010||10th, 2011||from 1999||2||0||1980|
|Wuhan Zall||武汉卓尔||Wuhan Sports Center||52,357||2013 -||－||－||from 2013||0||0||－|
Season averages 
|Season||Total Attendance||Games||Average||Change||High avg.||Team||No. Of Clubs||Relegation Slots|
Attendance by clubs 
This table lists average attendances of clubs yearly, but only for seasons when that club played in the top division. Clubs are listed with their current names.
|Shandong Luneng Taishan||23,636||26,000||30,679||22,607||26,501||17,015||15,901||12,112||20,148|
The official Chinese Super league annual awards are given to players, managers and referees based on their performance during the season.
Most valuable player of the league 
It is also named the "Mr. Football Golden Ball award".
|2004||Zhao Junzhe||Liaoning Zhongyu||China|
|2005||Branko Jelic||Beijing Guoan||Serbia|
|2006||Zheng Zhi||Shandong Luneng||China|
|2007||Du Zhenyu||Changchun Yatai||China|
|2008||Emil Martínez||Shanghai Shenhua||Honduras|
|2009||Samuel Caballero||Changchun Yatai||Honduras|
|2010||Duvier Riascos||Shanghai Shenhua||Colombia|
|2012||Cristian Dănălache||Jiangsu Sainty||Romania|
Golden Boot award 
This award is awarded to the top goalscorer of the league that year.
|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|| Hernán Barcos
|Shenzhen Asia Travel/Shanghai Shenhua
|2010||Duvier Riascos||Shanghai Shenhua||20|
|2012||Cristian Dănălache||Jiangsu Sainty||23|
There is also an award that is awarded to the top Chinese goalscorer of that season, which was first introduced in 2011.
|2011||Yu Hanchao||Liaoning Whowin||12|
|2012||Wang Yongpo||Shandong Luneng Taishan||10|
Manager of the year 
|2004||Zhu Guanghu||Shenzhen Jianlibao||Chinese Super League champions||China|
|2005||Vladimir Petrovic Pizon||Dalian Shide||Chinese Super League champions; Chinese FA Cup winners||Serbia|
|2006||Ljubisa Tumbakovic||Shandong Luneng||Chinese Super League champions; Chinese FA Cup winners||Serbia|
|2007||Gao Hongbo||Changchun Yatai||Chinese Super League champions||China|
|2008||Ljubisa Tumbakovic||Shandong Luneng||Chinese Super League champions||Serbia|
|2009||Tang Yaodong||Henan Jianye||Chinese Super League third place||China|
|2010||Branko Ivankovic||Shandong Luneng||Chinese Super League champions||Croatia|
|2011||Ma Lin||Liaoning Whowin||Chinese Super League third place||China|
|2012||Dragan Okuka||Jiangsu Sainty||Chinese Super League runners-up||Serbia|
Youth player of the year 
|2004||Chen Tao||Shenyang Ginde||China|
|2005||Hao Junmin||Tianjin Teda||China|
|2006||Wang Dalei||Shanghai Liancheng||China|
|2007||Hao Junmin||Tianjin Teda||China|
|2008||Huang Bowen||Beijing Guoan||China|
|2009||Deng Zhuoxiang||Jiangsu Sainty||China|
|2010||Zheng Zheng||Shandong Luneng||China|
|2011||Song Wenjie||Qingdao Jonoon||China|
|2012||Zhang Xizhe||Beijing Guoan||China|
Goalkeeper of the year 
|2012||Deng Xiaofei||Jiangsu Sainty||China|
|Season||Sponsor||Annual Value||Official League Name|
|1994||Marlboro||$ 1.2 million||Marlboro Jia-A League|
|1995||Marlboro||$ 1.32 million||Marlboro Jia-A League|
|1996||Marlboro||$ 1.44 million||Marlboro Jia-A League|
|1997||Marlboro||$ 1.56 million||Marlboro Jia-A League|
|1998||Marlboro||$ 1.68 million||Marlboro Jia-A League|
|1999||Pepsi||$ 10 million||Pepsi Jia-A League|
|2000||Pepsi||$ 11 million||Pepsi Jia-A League|
|2001||Pepsi||$ 12 million||Pepsi Jia-A League|
|2002||Pepsi||$ 13 million||Pepsi Jia-A League|
|2003||Siemens Mobile||$ 5 million||Siemens Mobile Jia-A League|
|2004||Siemens Mobile||€ 8 million||Siemens Mobile Chinese Super League|
|2005||No sponsor||Chinese Football Association Super League|
|2006||IPhox||€ 6 million||Iphox Chinese Super League|
|2007||Kingway Beer||￥ 36 million||Kingway Beer Chinese Super League|
|2008||Kingway Beer||￥ 38 million||Kingway Beer Chinese Super League|
|2009||Pirelli||€ 5 million||Pirelli Chinese Super League|
|2010||Pirelli||€ 5 million||Pirelli Chinese Super League|
|2011||Wanda Plaza||￥ 65 million||Wanda Plaza Chinese Super League|
|2012||Wanda Plaza||￥ 65 million||Wanda Plaza Chinese Super League|
Reserve league 
The reserve league is open to all of the reserve teams from the Chinese Super League, China League One, and China League Two clubs.
|2008||Wuhan Optics Valley|
Youth league 
Like the reserve league, the youth league is open to all the youth teams of all professional clubs in China.
|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|
|2010||Not held||Shandong Luneng||Shanghai Luckystar|
|2011||Beijing Guo'an||Shanghai FA||Hubei FA|
See also 
- Football in China
- Chinese Football Association
- Chinese football champions
- Chinese football records
- Chinese FA Cup
- Chinese Jia-A League
- China League One
- China League Two
- "中国足协纪律委员会处罚决定（001-038号）" (in Chinese). Chinese Football Association. 2013-02-18. Retrieved 2013-02-18.
- 北京工人体育场全面改造 可容纳62000名观众_深圳新闻网新闻中心
- 大连队新球场选址确定 欲建全国最现代化的球场-搜狐体育
- 2007女足世界杯赛场巡礼 - FIFA 2007中国女足世界杯 - 华奥星空网
- :::: 上海市地方志办公室 ::::
- Official site of the Chinese Super League (Chinese)
- Official site of the Chinese Football Association (Chinese)