Hunan Billows F.C.
|Full name||Hunan Xiangtao Football Club
|Founded||26 December 2006
15 January 2004 (widely accepted)
|Chairman||Li Jingman (李京曼)|
|League||China League One|
Hunan Billows Football Club (simplified Chinese: 湖南湘涛; traditional Chinese: 湖南湘濤; pinyin: Húnán Xiāngtāo) is a professional Chinese football club who plays at the 20,000 seat Central South University Stadium in Hunan, Changsha in China. The club was originally founded on January 15, 2004 as Hunan Xiangjun to take part in the second tier at the beginning of the 2004 Chinese football league season. After three seasons the club was relegated and faced financial difficulties, however to preserve the representation of Hunan province within the Chinese football league pyramid, fans of the club raised three million Yuan in the hopes of keeping the team going before the local Hunan government sports body decided that it would be best to invest on a brand new team for the area where they essentially formed a new club called Hunan Billows (Simplified Chinese: 湖南湘军) on December 26, 2006. The reformed club have since gone on to win the 2009 Chinese League Two title and promotion to the Chinese League One division where they have since remained.
Before the start of the 2004 Chinese football league season Chongqing Lifan and Yunnan Hongta would merge their football clubs together. This saw a free space available within the second division and the surplus players from both the clubs would decide to band together to form a new club called Hunan Xiangjun (or Hunan Shoking Football Club in English) after they gained investment from the Hunan Corun Group who bought the club's registration into the division for 20 million Yuan. On January 15, 2004 the club was officially inaugurated into the Chinese football league and hired former Chinese Olympic medalist Xiong Ni as their Chairman and former Chinese international footballer Zho Bo as their first manager. Playing within the 55,000 seat Helong Stadium in Changsha the club had internationals in Fu Bin and Srđan Bajčetić while the youth team called Xiangxue Pharmaceutical participated in the 2004–05 Hong Kong First Division League to gain experience. Unfortunately the youth team failed to impress while the senior team faired little better and would initially struggle within their debut season, however they did enough to survive and finished tenth at the end of the season.
The following season was to prove even more difficult for the club as they went through a succession of managers to improve results while the excessive wages of their players and the renting of Helong Stadium saw the club in financial difficulties. This saw the ownership of the club move to the company Bailong and their general manager Sun Yingui for a brief period, however this was short-lived and the Corun Group took over the club once again. While this was going on Li Hui was managing the side with little success, which saw him and his players reach breaking point after a humiliating 5-1 defeat to Shanghai International on June 18, 2005 in a Chinese FA Cup game saw Li Hui publicly criticize his players lack of commitment before deciding to leave the club. Wang Tao was brought in as his replacement to manage the club while the team finishing in a disappointing twelfth but remained within the league. Li Kejia was brought in as a new manager in the 2006 league season, however the team continued their losing ways and former Chinese international Hao Haidong was brought in as a General manager to help inspire the team, this turned out to be fruitless and the club finished rock bottom of the league and were relegated to the third tier.
To preserve the representation of Hunan province within the Chinese football league pyramid, fans of the club raised three million Yuan in the hopes of keeping the team going before the local Hunan government sports body decided that it would be best to invest on a brand new team for the area. On December 26, 2006 essentially a new team was formed to participate within the 2007 league season called Hunan Xiangtao (or Hunan Billows Football Club in English) despite Xiong Ni returning as their Chairman and Li Kejia returning as their manager. Now playing within the 6,000 seat Hunan Provincial People's Stadium the team was completely rebuilt and played their first league game against Sichuan FC in a 1-0 defeat Throughout the season the club's results would actually improve and the team would finish third within the Southern division where they made the play-offs but were knocked out in the second round. With a further investment of six million Yuan from the local Hunan government sports body the following season results would see the club gain another play-off position where they were once again knocked out in the second round. By the 2009 league season and with the continued investment of the local Hunan government sports body as well as the management of Men Wenfeng the club now had a team to go on the win the division title after they beat local rivals Hubei Greenery in the play-off final to win the division title.
Within the second tier again they would move back into the Helong Stadium and hire Zhao Faqing as their new manager at the beginning of the 2010 league season. Initially the season began well for the club and they looked like genuine promotion contenders until conflicts between the Hunan and the Hubei Greenery fans during their May 14 game seemed to derail their promotion push and they eventually finished the season in sixth. The next season they would move into the 20,000 seat Central South University Stadium and brought in Miloš Hrstić to manage them. While Miloš Hrstić's reign saw a slight improvement within the teams ranking at the end of the 2011 league season, which saw them finish fourth he would leave the club at the end of the campaign and was replaced by his assistant coach Zhang Xu. In preparation for the 2012 league season the club would then bring in several high profile players such as Honduras internationals Emil Martínez and Erick Norales as well as Chinese international Dong Fangzhuo in their hopes to win promotion.
The team have played in several stadiums throughout their history, however when they were originally formed they predominantly used the 55,000 seat Helong Stadium in Changsha for their important matches while the more modest 6,000 seat Hunan Provincial People's Stadium which is also located in Changsha was used for their smaller games. With the club in financial difficulties the cost in renting the Helong Stadium would see the team permanently move into the Hunan Provincial People's Stadium, which continued when the club was reformed and they were playing in the third tier. When they won promotion back into the second tier the Helong Stadium was an option for a brief period before 2011 when they have predominantly used the 20,000 seat Central South University Stadium in Changsha as their main stadium.
- 2003-06 Hunan Xiangjun
- 2007-09 Hunan Billows (湖南湘涛)
- since 2009 Hunan Xiangtao
Final league positions
As of 11 March 2013
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
|Head coach||Dražen Besek|
|Assistant coach||Jaros Nikola|
|Goalkeeping Coach||Liu Hong|
|Team Physician|| Deng Kun
- ""足球湘军"加速本土化 海南猛练体能". sina.com.cn. 2004-01-27. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "Hongkong 2004/05". rsssf.com. 17 Nov 2005. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "China 2004". rsssf.com. 7 Apr 2005. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "湖南湘军失控足协杯惨败 主帅李辉黯然逃离(图)". sports.sohu.com. 2005-06-27. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "China 2005". rsssf.com. 26 Oct 2006. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "郝海东出手收购湖南湘军(图)". sohu.com. 2006-07-18. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "球迷捐助300万重组湘军 湘涛俱乐部成立战中乙". sohu.com. 2007-01-24. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "熊倪倾情关注湖南足球 湘涛回家备战07乙级联赛". hnxiangtao.com. 2007-04-12. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "乙级联赛湘涛首战失利 0比1惜败给来访四川队". hnxiangtao.com. 2007-05-06. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "China 2007". rsssf.com. 18 Apr 2008. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "湖南湘涛砸六百万冲甲". sina.com.cn. 2008-04-29. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "China 2009". rsssf.com. 23 Apr 2010. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "湘鄂球迷爆小规模冲突 不和谐因子去年已种下(图)". sports.sina.com.cn. 2010-05-14. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "China 2010". rsssf.com. 21 Jun 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "08中超足球先生马丁内斯加盟湖南湘涛". hnxiangtao.com. 2011-12-15. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "Hunan Xiangtao FC". soccerway.com. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
- "Team's stadiums" (in Chinese). hnxiangtao.com , team website. Retrieved 25 December 2011.