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Chinese Football Association proposes new top flight format

(Xinhua)    12:17, May 16, 2020

A new format for the 2020 Chinese Super League (CSL) season has been proposed after a summit between the Chinese Football Association (CFA) and representatives from CSL clubs, China's football governing body announced here on Friday.

The 2020 CSL season was slated to begin on February 22, but was postponed because of the escalating COVID-19 outbreak. However, with the virus now largely under control in China, social restrictions are being eased and discussions are ongoing regarding a restart of the country's top football league.

The CFA's proposal features a two-phase format containing 20 matchdays, down from the usual 30. In the first phase, the 16-team league will be divided into two groups which will follow the traditional home-away round robin format, with the top four teams in each group moving into Final A and the bottom four falling into Final B. Teams will then play three rounds of knockout matches to decide the season's final ranking.

The CFA disclosed that all clubs had agreed on the design of the first phase, but that further negotiations were needed on the second phase.

It was also revealed that China's second-tier China League would retain its original format, but that this was subject to change, and the third division league would continue with its format of a regular season plus playoffs.

The CFA outlined that matches early in the season will be played without fans in attendance, with fans to be gradually allowed back in accordance with relevant policies on social distancing.

Meanwhile, the CFA also designed a provisional medical program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, incorporating temperature measurements outside stadiums and a three-tier medical management system.

"During the discussion, we repeatedly stressed that the resumption of all professional leagues should meet the medical protocols to secure the safety of all related staff," read a CFA statement.

A CFA source told Xinhua that professional clubs of all levels in China supported proposals suggesting to temporarily cut employees' salaries during the pandemic, and that the CFA wanted to use this opportunity to promote the sound development of football and ease the negative impact of excessive spending.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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