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Soccer Super League May Have American Name
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A US company, which has a big presence in China, will spend US$10 million on the naming rights of the Chinese top division football league this year, Chengdu Economic Daily reported today. The Chinese Football Association may publish the announcement within the week, the newspaper said.

The US company, which is keeping its name a secret until the contract is finalized with the national football association, will sponsor the China Super League by acquiring its naming rights as well as some other additional terms, said an industry insider. The company is well known in China, it does a large part of their business here, he added.

Along with the naming rights, an opening ceremony for the Super League 2006 may be held in Shanghai or Wuhai, capital of central China's Hubei Province, next month. However, the decision on the host city for the ceremony will mainly be up to the US sponsor, the newspaper said.

If one of the two cities hosts the ceremony, the first round matches of the season will start on March 11, the newspaper said.

China Super League ran its 2005 season without a title, because the highest bid for the naming rights was 40 million yuan (US$5 million) only, which was not acceptable to the national football association.

The CSL was founded in 2004 as a replacement for the previous Division I (Jia A) league, with 12 clubs in the league. The inaugural season was plagued with scandals, such as fixed games and referee bribery.

For the 2005 season, the league expanded to 14 teams after Wuhan Huanghelou and Zhuhai Zhongbang won promoting them from the second league. Sichuan Guancheng has forfeited after it failed to meet the financial requirements set by the association.

This year the league resumed its delegations, as one team will be degraded to the lower-level league, while another two being promoted to the top level. The association hopes it will revive the attraction of the top-level league and win back its sponsorships.

(Beijing Time February 28, 2006)

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