Thirteen Chinese Super League clubs could be forced to forfeit their participation in the competition next season after failing to pay their players properly.
The clubs in question have been told they must settle their arrears by August 15 and send proof to the Chinese Football Association (CFA) or face being denied entry to the league.
The teams named in a July 11 correspondence between the CFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) include current champions Guangzhou Evergrande as well as big spending Shanghai SIPG, whose squad boasts the likes of Hulk, Ricardo Carvalho and £60million midfielder Oscar.
Shanghai Shenhua, who have £615,000-per-week Carlos Tevez on their books, are also among the teams named.
Five lower league sides have also been accused of failing to pay some of their players’ salaries and bonuses.
Of the 16 top tier sides, only Yanbian Fude, Henan Jianye and Guizhou Hengfeng have no unmet financial obligations.
This controversy comes six months after the Chinese government moved to intervene in club spending.
The country’s top sports governing body accused teams earlier this year of the “grave phenomenon” of “burning money” on foreign players instead of investing in youth development.
A spokesman for China’s General Administration of Sport set out plans to “set a cap for clubs’ expenditures for buying players, and inhibit unreasonable investment”.
The crackdown is designed to “combat signing bonuses, shadow contracts, and other violations, and sternly handle clubs, players or brokers that demand or seek signing bonuses”.
Clubs accused of failing to pay players properly:
Super League: Shanghai Shenhua, Shanghai SIPG, Beijing Guoan, Changchun Yatai, Chongqing Dangdai Lifan, Hebei China Fortune, Guangzhou Evergrande, Guangzhou R&F, Jiangsu Suning, Liaoning Whowin, Shandong Luneng Taishan, Tianjin Quanjian, Tianjin TEDA.