Chinese Super League holders Jiangsu FC have pulled out of AFC Champions League

China's Jiangsu FC quit the AFC CL a month after the club's owners ceased their operations as a result of their financial struggles.

The shock news provoked hand-wringing about the state of football in China and prompted calls for a major rethink from top to bottom.

Its Champions League exit comes after Chinese FA Cup winners Shandong Taishan – formerly known as Shandong Luneng – was booted out of Asia’s top club tournament in February after breaking rules related to finances.

The Asian Football Confederation said the Chinese FA had confirmed Jiangsu’s withdrawal from the tournament.

“The AFC has taken note of the Chinese Football Association’s (CFA) confirmation of Jiangsu FC’s withdrawal from participating in this season’s AFC Champions League,” the Asian football governing body said in a statement.

As a result, South Korea’s Pohang Steelers and Thailand’s Ratchaburi now advance automatically to Group G, avoiding a play-off, it added.

The centralized matches for Group G will take place in Thailand from June 21 to July 7.

The east zone group games, including teams from China, Japan, Australia and South Korea, were last week delayed to June and July, from original dates in April, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The west zone matches, comprising mostly Middle Eastern sides, will go ahead as planned next month.

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