Sports / Soccer

Contract breach casts shadow over Evergrande's AFC title

By Sun Xiaochen ( Updated: 2015-11-24 21:01

Contract breach casts shadow over Evergrande's AFC title

Players of Guangzhou Evergrande pose for photos before the second leg of the AFC Champions League final match between Guangzhou Evergrande and Al Ahli of United Arab Emirates in Guangzhou, China, Nov 21, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

The commercial dispute between five-time Chinese Super League champion and newly crowned AFC Champions League titlist Guangzhou Evergrande and its car sponsor has cast a shadow over the club's second Asian crown in three years.

Evergrande became the target of public censure on Monday as auto brand Dongfeng Nissan, its team shirt advertisement sponsor, announced it will sue the club for breaching a commercial contract.

Ahead of Evergrande's 1-0 victory over UAE's Al-Ahli in the second leg of the final on Saturday, the club replaced the logo of a Dongfeng Nissan vehicle on the front of its strip with image of an insurance subsidiary under the Evergrande Group, the team's co-owner, without reaching agreement with the Japanese-Chinese joint venture car maker for the change.

Dongfeng Nissan, who paid a reported 100 million yuan ($15.7 million) for the club's shirt ad for all games in the 2014-15 season, said it "has taken legal action against the club" in a statement posted on its website.

After rejecting an informal request from the club on Nov 10 for the change, the firm received a written notice only "one minute before the game" for the unapproved replacement, said the statement.

Evergrande later issued a statement saying that the club has asked Dongfeng Nissan one month before the game to buy back the ad space for the second leg of the final but received no response.

The club said it would like to compensate for Dongfeng Nissan's loss under the breach clause of the two-year contract, adding that it hoped the dispute could be settled through "friendly consultation".

The dispute has stirred heated debate among fans and observers of the professional game in China as Evergrande had long been hailed as a model professional sports club with sound and legal operation.

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