Shanghai Shenhua embroiled in ownership dispute

29 Aug 2012

Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua is embroiled in an ownership dispute which could lead to the departures of big-money foreign signings, according to local media.

The China Daily newspaper reports that Shenhua chairman Zhu Jun, who currently holds a 28.5% stake in the club, will only continue to bankroll the team if his demands for greater control are met. Zhu currently controls Shenhua along with five state-owned companies after initially becoming a shareholder in 2007. An agreement is reportedly in place that Zhu’s stake would increase to over 70% if he invested the equivalent of £15 million over two years.

The Oriental Sports Daily stated that Zhu has invested more than £60 million into the club in the past five and a half years, while the state-owned companies have spent nothing. The newspaper added the transfer of shares collapsed in 2009 and again last year. “It is annoying and has had a bad effect on many of our tasks,” a club official said. “The biggest problem is that the operation and financing work of the club cannot be carried out normally. The equity stakes issue has become the biggest bottleneck for the development of Shenhua.”

Shenhua has been at the forefront of the Super League’s rise to become a serious player in the global transfer market through the capture of stars such as Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka over the past 12 months. The ownership dispute could see Zhu elect to reposition his funding of the club in line with his 28.5% stake, potentially calling into question the futures of big earners such as the former Chelsea pair. The forwards are reportedly being paid more than US$300,000 a week under the terms of their deals.