Five former Chinese Super League clubs that no longer exist

Chinese Super League

The Chinese Super League is best known around the world for its ‘gold rush’ era, where clubs spent enormous sums of money to attract some big name players, but it also has a difficult history where a number of clubs have been unable to maintain their status in the league.

Clubs that were once mainstays in Chinese football for decades, some even as far back as the 1950s, and had varying amounts of success at different stages of their existence, have been wiped out in a matter of days over the years, shocking many involved in the sport in the Middle Kingdom.

Fans have never forgotten those clubs, but perhaps casual fans or those less familiar with the history of the Chinese Super League, may not even know of some of these clubs’ existences.

Well, here are five clubs that were once in the Chinese Super League but now no longer exist.


Shenzhen Football Club are one of the most recent teams in Chinese football history to suffer the disappointment of dissolution, having closed up in January 2024 after a near-thirty-year existence.

Founded in 1994 after football became professionalised in China, Shenzhen began life in the third tier of the football pyramid in the country then-named the China Yi League (now known as China League Two).

They secured promotion as league champions in their very first season, following that up with another promotion from the Jia-B League the following year – again claiming the league title at the first time of asking.

This succession of titles catapulted Shenzhen into the then-named Jia-A League, the top tier of Chinese football, in just their third year of operating. The stark reality of leaping up so quickly saw the team relegated in their debut season.

Shenzhen were unable to claim the title upon returning to the second tier, but finished as runners-up and secured promotion back into the top league for the 1998 season – a year in which the league expanded to 14 teams, having previously been operating with just 12 up to that point.

Shenzhen narrowly avoided relegation in their return to Jia-A, finishing in 12th place in back-to-back seasons before establishing some stability and building on results to become one of the most competitive teams in the competition after the turn of the century.

Between 2001 and 2003, the final years of the league operating as Jia-A, Shenzhen finished in the top five, with a runners-up finish in 2002 giving them their best finish in the top tier up to that moment.

The league rebranded into the Chinese Super League for the 2004 season, with Shenzhen a founding member, and the team secured their one-and-only Chinese Super League title in its inaugural season – finishing six points ahead of long-standing successful side Shandong Taishan.

That was the pinnacle for the team, however, as they then slumped towards the bottom of the table before being relegated in 2011. They then spent seven years in the second tier, winning promotion back into the CSL after finishing as runners-up in China League One in 2018.

After finishing towards the bottom of their first two seasons back in the top tier, Shenzhen reached sixth place in 2021, but financial trouble then plagued the club, seeing them finish 14th and then suffering relegation in 2023 before finally wrapping up operations in January of this year, unable to find a way to come back from their money troubles.


This next team was one that had a significantly longer lifespan than Shenzhen, but also had the distinction of winning the Chinese Super League at its very peak: Jiangsu.

Known by various names throughout its existence, Jiangsu began as a semi-professional side back in 1958 as Jiangsu Provincial Football Team.

The team bounced between the top and second tiers throughout its initial tenure before turning professional in 1994.

Jiangsu Maint Football Club played the 1994 season in the Jia-A League, but suffered relegation. The club finished seventh the following season before yet another relegation, this time down to the third tier Yi League, in 1996.

Jiangsu won the 1997 Yi League title and spent the next decade playing in the second tier, finishing third twice in 2000 and 2007 before finally winning the China League One title in 2008, gaining promotion back into the top tier – this time in the Chinese Super League.

Jiangsu would never suffer relegation again in their existence and began to enter a period of genuine success and prosperity in the 2010s.

The Nanjing-based side became of the poster clubs of the financial ‘gold rush’ era in Chinese football that saw many big name players forsake success at internationally renowned clubs in favour of significant pay days in the Middle Kingdom.

Alex Teixeira, the third most expensive signing in the league’s history, as well as Ramires and former Manchester City striker Jô all featured for the team through the decade, while a highly-publicised effort to attract then-Real Madrid star Gareth Bale to the club also took place, albeit unsuccessfully.

Their first sniff of domestic success came in 2012, when the team finished as runners-up in the Chinese Super League, having claimed fourth place the year before.

They followed this up by winning the Chinese Super Cup and reaching the quarter-finals of the Chinese FA Cup, though limped to a 13th place finish in the league.

2014 saw them reach the final of the CFA Cup, which they subsequently won in 2015. 2016 then saw them finish second in all domestic competitions that year, including the league, CFA Cup and Super Cup.

Their second place in the league was enough to see them challenge for the Super Cup in 2017, but again silverware eluded them.

Fifth and fourth place was what Jiangsu managed in 2018 and 2019 respectively, before having their best-ever season in 2020 when they claimed the Chinese Super League title – their first-ever top-tier title, while also finishing as runners-up in the CFA Cup.

However, as was becoming ever apparent in Chinese football, financial troubles were the downfall of yet another club as parent company Suning decided to pull all funding from the club, including the women’s team and at youth level after the CFA’s decision to force teams into adopting a ‘neutral’ name, which would have made the then-named Jiangsu Suning return to the simple Jiangsu FC they had been named at different stages of their history.

So, as reigning Chinese Super League champions, Jiangsu wrapped up operations and ceased to exist in what was one of the most surprising and swift downfalls witnessed in recent memory, with many believing the club would have a chance at more silverware in the seasons to come.

Now, that’s simply what could have been for a club that had existed for over 60 years.


Another club with a long history and some measure of domestic success that sadly no longer operates is Yanbian, who also have held various names due to sponsorship reasons throughout a history that began back in the mid-1950s.

Established as the Jilin Provincial Team in 1955, the side won the National League in 1965 having come runners-up in the second tier just the year before.

Prior to the professional era’s beginning in 1994, Jilin bounced around all levels of the Chinese football pyramid, yo-yo-ing between the top two tiers for a number of years before dropping into the third tier in 1988.

It was a fairly quick return to the top, however, as the team won the third tier after two years and found themselves back in the top tier for the 1993 season, surviving in their return season to become one of the founding members of the professional league in 1994.

The newly renamed Yanbian played in the top tier until the turn of the century, where they suffered relegation in 2000 before financial trouble actually saw the team forced to sell their entire first team players and CFA license to Hangzhou Greentown.

Yanbian restarted life immediately in the third tier, retaining their history. It would take them four years to win promotion back into the second tier and a further 11 before they finally returned to the top tier, this time in the Chinese Super League, after winning the 2015 China League One title.

Their debut season in the CSL saw them finish ninth. It was a close-fought middle pack in 2016, with three points separating eighth and 14th in the league, with Yanbian even finishing higher than fellow Jilin Province rivals Changchun Yatai.

The following year, however, was less kind to the team and finished 15th and were relegated back to China League One. By then, financial difficulties had truly set in for the club and, while they finished 10th the following season, these troubles were too much to overcome and the club were forcibly relegated.

There was no way back for Yanbian, however, and the club ceased operations, with their last coming in 2018 after 63 years of existence.

Liaoning FC

The previously mentioned teams have all had varying levels of success and longevity within the Chinese game, but the final two teams are by far the most successful and ‘historic’ of all the teams mentioned in this list.

Forming in 1953, Liaoning were easily the team of the semi-professional era, especially immediately before and during the semi-professional Jia-A League era between 1987 and 1993.

During this time, Liaoning claimed a record eight league titles, having also technically shared the 1954 title with the Northeastern China team before being allowed to split and represent themselves individually from 1956.

Liaoning won six titles in seven years between ’87 and ’93 and also won the Chinese FA Cup in 1984 and 1986, as well as the Asian Club Championship (the original name for the AFC Champions League) in 1989, becoming the first Chinese club to do so, while also coming runners-up the following year.

After the sport turned professional in 1994, Liaoning did not enjoy the same successes they had previously, winning the Super Cup in 1999 – a year in which they came second in the top tier, the closest they came to winning the league after becoming a professional side.

Throughout their lengthy history, Liaoning spent just six seasons outside the top flight, with a three-year spell from 1996 to 1998, 2009 when the team won the China League One title, and finally in 2018 and 2019.

After returning to the Chinese Super League in 2010, Liaoning reached third in just their second year back, but then fell into mediocrity and finished below mid-table almost every season before suffering their fateful relegation in 2017.

Financial difficulties meant the club were unable to continue operations for the 2020 season. Attendances had plummeted from 22,000 to 12,00 in the year they were relegated and only just eclipsed the 3,000 mark in their final two seasons before being absorbed by then then-named Liaoning Shenyang Urban, who recently rebranded as Liaoning Tieren this season.

After Yanbian, it was another significant blow for football in the Northeast of the country, which was once a hotbed for talent and had easily the most successful team in the league at one stage with the last team on this list.

Dalian Shide

Dalian Shide, founded in 1955 as Dalian Shipyards, were once synonymous with success in Chinese football and were easily the most successful club of the professional era before the rise of Guangzhou Evergrande in the 2010s

Shide were successful through the late 1990s and early 2000s, having the distinct honour of two three-peats between 1997 and 1999 and 2001 and 2002, claiming six titles in seven years in the former Jia-A League.

The club also won the Chinese Super League in 2005, the last time they would taste success after so many years of dominance, which included two Chinese FA Cup successes in 2001 and 2005, with their one other cup coming in the semi-professional era.

They also won the Super Cup on three occasions, in 1997, 2001 and 2003, with 2001 also seeing them claim a domestic treble.

They finished as runners-up in two Continental competitions, narrowly missing out on joining Liaoning as Asian champions, and also regularly finished in the top three in the league as well as runners-up of both the CFA Cup and Super Cup.

As with so many teams in China, financial troubles hit the team and they were purchased by the parent company of the then-named Dalian Aerbin, merging with them in 2012 – with some people viewing Aerbin as the natural successors of the club, something that Dalian Transcendence contested with many Shide fans changing allegiances to them.

Aerbin renamed to Yifang before adopting the Dalian Professional name, and former Dalian Wanda badge, before ultimately being dissolved after suffering relegation in the 2023 season, with the final remnants of Dalian Shide officially no longer operating in Chinese football for the first time.