It’s been a while since I have done one of these, so be patient with me loyal reader.

10th May it says here, Malaysia. I must have caught the Asia bug at some point as I’ve had a lot of fun in Japan, Malaysia and soon (I hope), China.

By now, I am hoping you are familiar with the reason I have flown behind the Great Wall, ready to unleash hell on Chinese football and turn them into a global superpower by the year 2050.

Having landed in many random locations over the years, I have learned the hard way to have a good sniff around the league rules and regulations – you don’t want to find these things out when it is far too late.

So, let’s do this.



China, out of the FM box as it were, has two divisions.

Let’s have a look at the top flight first – we know it as the CSL but they call it 中国足球协会超级联赛.

I’m not going to spend a great deal of time delving into the top flight as I won’t be starting at this level, but here are some of the highlights in terms of rules;

Immediately there are a couple of things you could easily miss – luckily I’ve whacked a big bloody arrow next to them to help you out.

Squad registration and match rules are a must know from the word go – otherwise, how are you going to recruit? You can have 5 foreign players in the overall squad, no more than 4 in the match squad and only 3 can be on the pitch at any one time. Oh, and don’t forget to have the token Chinese U23 player on the pitch too.

Probably more importantly is understanding the league sorting rules. Goal difference? Third on the list, mate. It’s results and, very very randomly, your ranking in the reserve league that counts first of all. That means you should probably take reserve team football quite seriously in China.

The money isn’t exactly English Premier League, but hey.

It’s good to see that a decent number of clubs get into the continental competition – I thought there was an AFC Cup too, but maybe I was wrong.

If, OK when, I get my club into the AFC reckoning I will do a competition guide to it.

Oh, and VAR. Woohoo. And for consistency, I am saying that V-A-R and NOT varrrrrr. OK?

Let’s have a looksie at the league I will be starting in.

Chinese Jia League (First Division)

No fancy graphics to introduce this one as it isn’t the top flight, I am afraid.

It is as simple as that, really.

The First Division does have one ‘big’ team in it – Shenzhen FC who won the CSL back in 2004.

In fairness, the league should be fairly wide open in terms of potential winners so if you were to take over a side in this league promotion should be available to anyone with a bit of decent management (he says, setting himself up to look like a complete muppet when he doesn’t win promotion).

The Chinese FA Cup

This is an eight round tournament where the professional teams arrive in the 3rd Round.

There’s some weird shit in their foreign player rulings for this one which, I admit, caught me out massively in my 3rd Round match that I’ve just played.

Basically, if you are playing a team from League Two, you cannot pick a foreign player. I can understand the logic, gives the lower league side a chance of an upset. And it certainly levels the playing field (you can probably guess how my cup match went).

You only get 105,000€ for winning the tournament but you do get a place in the AFC Champions League which is cool.


You will notice, these are not that different (they are exactly the same) as my tips to managing in Malaysia. They’re still valid, though.


When you take over whoever you have chosen to manage, one of the first things you will notice is a huge gap in quality between your foreign players and your Chinese players. Do not panic – they might not have a 5* rating but many of them are still decent. If you have anyone around 2-2.5* then I would suggest having a proper look at them as they could end up being important players. Also, if you have anyone with an outstanding attribute take a good look no matter what star rating the coaches give him.


This might sound like common sense but it is easily forgotten. Your foreign players will be your best players – fact. Therefore, when devising your strategy, I’d have a think about where on the field you want your strongest players to be and recruit/select accordingly. My advice would be to use at least two of the three in important attacking positions – personally, as I am sure my tactical set-up is likely to be different to yours, I’ve gone with my two most important positions being the roaming playmaker and a shadow striker.


If you are planning to hang around in China for more than a season I would recommend you start scouting for season two quite early. There are lots of players on a one-year contract at the start of the game so you might be able to pick up some star players on frees heading into your second campaign.

So, in the next post we will look at the club I am going to take over in China and the reasons why I have chosen them.

This will probably come out on Friday because everyone is going to want to read FM content rather than actually play the game on full release day, right?

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