Chinese soccer club Hebei can’t pay bills, future uncertain

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The future of another Chinese soccer club is in question after Hebei FC said Monday it is struggling to pay its utility bills.

All of Hebei’s youth players will go on vacation starting Wednesday, Hebei said on its social media channel, heightening concerns it could become the second Chinese team to go out of business this year.

“Because of the difficulties known to the public, Hebei FC training base cannot pay electricity bills on time,” a club statement said. “In order to reduce operation costs, the club has decided to let the players of U-17, U-16, U-13 and U-12 teams take holidays from November 3rd.”

The announcement followed a report from Chinese news agency Xinhua that Hebei, owned by property developer China Fortune Land Development, had decided to cease general operations until new investment can be found.

Defending champion Jiangsu FC ceased operating in February with owner Suning, the retail giant that also has a majority share in Italian club Inter Milan, looking to reduce costs. Tianjin Tianhai went out of business in May 2020.

Hebei’s financial problems may not be helped by the Chinese soccer association’s decision to suspend the league from August to December in order to give the national team time to prepare for six World Cup qualifiers.

It’s uncertain if the club will play when the league resumes next month.

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