Wanda set for CSL comeback

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WANDA Group is planning to return to club ownership in the CSL with the conglomerate set to purchase a controlling stake in newly promoted Dalian Yifang,according to Chinese media.
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WANDA Group is planning to return to club ownership in the Chinese Super League with the conglomerate set to purchase a controlling stake in newly promoted Dalian Yifang, according to Chinese media.

Reports yesterday claimed Wanda owner Wang Jianlin would sanction the acquisition of the club, but Dalian Yifang has so far refused to comment directly on the speculation.

“Tomorrow afternoon Dalian Yifang will release important information,” the club said in a statement on its social media account.

“Please wait for our official announcement.”

Earlier this month Wanda Group sold most of its stake in Spanish side Atletico Madrid, although the company continues to hold naming rights to the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

Wang has been a long-term supporter of football in China and previously owned a club in the Chinese league during the 1990s, when Dalian Wanda won four league titles from 1994 until 1999 and reached the final of the AFC Club Championship — the predecessor to the AFC Champions League — in 1998.

Wanda withdrew its involvement in the club at the end of the 1999 season, with the Shide Group taking over the team and winning a further four league titles before it was disbanded in 2012.

Dalian Yifang, meanwhile, was formed in 2009, initially as Dalian Aerbin, before being bought over by the Yifang Group in 2015.

It won CSL promotion from China League One at the end of last season as division winner under Spanish coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro, who has since been replaced by Chinese coach Ma Lin.

Acquisition of the club by Wanda would increase the likelihood of significant investment in the squad and reports in Spain have this week linked Dalian with a move for Atletico winger Yannick Carrasco.

Spanish media reported that the 24-year old Belgian, who has appeared in 17 league games this season but only started eight, was aiming to move to Dalian for 30 million euros (US$37 million).

Spanish sports daily Marca said that the player’s agent was negotiating with Atletico’s consent and “the idea is that the deal will be closed this week”.

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