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Guangzhou Evergrande fined over shirt sponsor dispute

Chinese Super League football club Guangzhou Evergrande has been ordered to pay Dongfeng Nissan CNY24.7m (€3.3m/$3.8m) after breaching its shirt sponsorship agreement with the automotive company, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Dongfeng Nissan, a joint venture between Chinese firm Dongfeng and Japanese manufacturer Nissan, served as the club’s shirt sponsor during the 2015 season in a deal that Xinhua reported was worth more than CNY100m.

The company’s branding had featured on the front of the team’s jerseys all season but was replaced by insurance company Evergrande Life, a subsidiary of one of the Guangzhou’s owners, for the second leg of the club’s AFC Champions League final against United Arab Emirates-based club Al-Ahli on November 21 last year.

According to Dongfeng Nissan, it did not receive a written request from the club for Evergrande Life’s branding to adorn its shirts until a minute before the game, which Guangzhou won to claim its second Champions League title in three years.

A Guangzhou executive at the time told the AFP news agency that Dongfeng Nissan had been sent details of the proposed kit change 10 days before the game, and that the club had received no reply.

Dongfeng Nissan disputed the claims and said Guangzhou “took the liberty of unilaterally changing and replacing the chest advertisement without our company’s consent”.

The club official had hoped that “friendly consultations” would settle the issue. However, Xinhua reported earlier today (Friday) that the Guangzhou Huadu District People’s Court has ordered the club to pay the CNY24.7m fee after breaching the terms of the agreement.