Chinese Super League: Tianjin Tianhai folds amid bankruptcy

Tianjin Tianhai was once home to Fabio Cannavaro, Axel Witsel and Alexandre Pato but has been forced out of business by financial woes.

Tianjin Tianhai has struggled financially since its owner was arrested last year.   -  Getty Images

Chinese Super League club Tianjin Tianhai has declared bankruptcy and ceased operations.

Tianjin, which was previously coached by Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro and count Alexandre Pato and Axel Witsel among their former players, has struggled financially since its owner Shu Yuhui was arrested for organising and leading a pyramid scheme last year.

Shu was sentenced to nine years in prison in January.

Shenzhen FC will take Tianjin's place in the 2020 CSL, which has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tianjin finished third-bottom, one place above Shenzhen, which was relegated.

A club statement read: "Given an unsustainable financial situation, the club is no longer able to maintain normal operations.

READ | Chinese Super League could kick off without foreign stars

"After a period of thoughtful consideration… the club has no choice but to formally announce that Tianjin Tianhai is disbanding."

Tianjin was one of the most ambitious Chinese clubs when spending was briefly ramped up during the middle of the previous decade.

After being led out of the second tier by Cannavaro and the goals of Luis Fabiano in 2016, it signed Witsel and Pato for the next season and finished third in the CSL to qualify for the AFC Champions League.

However, Cannavaro then resigned to take charge of Guangzhou Evergrande and a ninth-place finish in its sole campaign under Sousa preceded last term's struggles.

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