Chinese Football Association plans to double grassroots funding in 2017
Chinese football is set for a significant funding boost after the Chinese Football Association announced it would spend nearly double its 2016 budget on the game over the next 12 months.
The CFA revealed plans at a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday to spend 670 million yuan (£78,750,000) to support the game across the country, with the largest sum of 243m yuan to be spent on the National Soccer Training Centre as well as operational costs and promotional fees.
But the area that will see the biggest increase in spending is youth development, with the sum rising from 54.3m yuan last year to 121m yuan as China continues to try to improve standards across the country in an attempt to become one of Asia's leading nations.
There has been significant investment in development across China, with the sport included in the national curriculum in 2015 to ensure football will be taught in 50,000 schools throughout the country by 2025.
But these moves have been overshadowed by the influx of highly paid foreign stars, with Chinese Super League clubs breaking the Asian transfer record on five occasions throughout 2016. Shanghai SIPG set a new benchmark in December when they acquired Oscar from Chelsea for £60m.
The CFA announced on Monday plans to reduce the number of foreign players eligible to feature in the Chinese Super League from four to three while forcing clubs to field at least one Chinese player under the age of 23 in the starting line-up of each CSL game.
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch