Although the Chinese Super League (CSL) may not be one of the strongest competitions in the world, or even in Asia, it's still quite a colourful league and provides entertainment to millions. Whether it be on the field or off the field, China has a lot to offer the world.
Just like the MLS in North America and A-League in Australia, the CSL has been monopolised by one manufacturer that being American sportswear company Nike. All kits, training wear, balls, casual wear, you name it Nike supply it to the CSL. Here I'll show you exactly what each club gets from the deal and hopefully a little insight into the clubs too.
Shandong Luneng Taishan (山东鲁能)
They are current league champions and pretty much breezed to the title last season with a 13 point gap between then and the next nearest team. The name 'Luneng' actually belongs to their principle sponsor, an electricity supplier from the Shandong Region. At home the team wear orange kits in quite a boxy design, the straightness of the white mesh on the side is where I believe the problem lies. If you take a look at last seasons kits, you'll probably agree it's a step back, or at least not fitting for the champions.
Tianjin Teda (天津泰达)
Tianjin are managed by Arie Haan who may be a familiar name to some of you as a former player from the famous Ajax and Netherlands teams of the 70's. 'Teda' again is a company name, you'll see it's not unfamiliar for this to happen in China. Tianjin play in white and light blue stripes, so it gives some idea how Nike might approach an Argentina strip. The away kit is one of the nicest in the league, the design is pretty basic but works really well in the colours and also the collar style give it a classy feel.
Shanghai Shenhua (上海申花)
Probably the the best supported team in China and one team whose name isn't a company name, although it once was. Shenhua are yet to capture the Super League title but have been runners-up on a few occasions as well as a 3rd placed finish last season, they were however the last champions of the league's previous incarnation, the Jia A. Their kits are some of the most unique in the league this time around and kind of echo what we saw from Nike in Japan with Sanfrecce Hiroshima. The design of the kits are quite traditional, folded collars, and bars of colour on the shoulders, it is jazzed up with the use of some funky patterns for both the home (blue) and away (black).
Hangzhou Greentown (杭州绿城)
Greentown, pleasant name isn't it, although it is another company name, it doesn't exactly feel like one. The team had a troubled beginning buying it's way into the Chinese football by purchasing another team and their license. Hangzhou were also part of a match fixing scandal in China in 2010 but weren't punished with relegation like a couple of other teams. The home kit is green, as you would maybe expect from a team with a name like 'Greentown', it has a striped design in two different shades with a white, round neck collar. It maybe a little lacklustre, but I quite like it, different shades of green are rarely used in football kits, so because it's a little away from the norm it get's my approval. The away stays the same as last term being white with a nice looking green name patch on the back.
Beijing Guoan (北京国安)
Another of the countries biggest teams and also of course the capital city club. Managed by former Porto player Jaime Pacheco, Beijing just missed out on an Asian Champions league spot by 2 points last season. The home kit is a bit like Shenhua's in the way that it uses a pattern on the front which gives an original feel which I don't think I'd be saying if it wasn't there. The collar spikes remind me a bit of Nike's 02/04 Manchester United kit although the collar itself is a different style. The away is white an in very similar style to Hangzhou's away kit.
Dalian Shide (大连实德)
If their is such a thing in Chinese football, Dalian is a constant, no name changes, no change of logo design and also constatly looking to challenge for the league title. A title which has eluded them for the past 6 years but before that they were the goliaths of the league and China's most prestigious team racking up 7 Jia A league titles and 1 Super League, earning them the nickname '8 Star Dalian'. Dalian's colour scheme makes for a really nice shirt, a light-ish blue with white shoulders and sleeves. The white sleeves aren't part of Dalian tradition but they do look good here with the shade of blue used. The away is all-white with a like blue trim on the collar and shoulders.
Liaoning Whowin (辽宁宏运)
Historically one of the most successful teams in China, they are also the only Chinese team to have a major continental trophy to their name. In more recent times however the club can be seen languishing as a mid-table side and has yet to make any threat to the title for a while now. Red is the colour in Liaoning and that's what you get from their shirt and not much more. Together with black shorts to break up the red it's a decent shirt, still nothing spectacular. Although not confirmed the away kit looks to stay the same and is an equally grand all-white number.
Henan Jianye (河南建业)
Based in Zhengzhou, Henan are named after the province where the city is located rather than the city itself. They stick with the same kits as last season, not exactly a bad thing as the Nike dealt them a pretty decent hand and since they use red and green it could possibly have been a horror show. The away kit could possibly have done with changing though since it's just Nike teamwear in blue.
Changchun Yatai (长春亚泰)
Another team who hasn't changed kits, but why would you when they're as good as Changchun's. Competing in the top-flight of Chinese football for the sixth year in a row now, Changchun play in red shirts, red shorts and yellow socks. Nike has pulled this together to produce an elegant kit that would look just as well on the Chinese national team. The away kit is also something a little bit special, all-white with a silver and red trim. The gold star above the Changchun crest denotes their one Super League title, which they won in only their second ever attempt.
Shaanxi Chanba (陕西浐灞)
Formerly known as Inter Shanghai, the club departed the city in 2006 and moved west to Shaanxi Province and are still referred to as 'Inter' by some people. Currently the club employs possibly one of the most famous Chinese footballers ever in their ranks, former Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United player, Sun Jihai (孙继海). They also boast the services of a player who seems to have been everywhere, but most notably of Inter Milan, Mohamed Kallon. Shaanxi say goodbye to playing in all yellow for the new season and will instead be donning an all-black look with a red trim. The away kit meanwhile is the same template as the home but in white and black rather.
Jiangsu Sainty (江苏舜天)
Champions in 2008 but since then, Jiangsu haven't been able to replicate this success dropping to 10th the season after, followed by an equally dismal 11th finish in 2010. Although a very pleasant name that 'Sainty' is, it again is a company name which deals in stocks and shares. The kits stay the same as last season but do have quite a unique colour scheme, light blue and white with an orange trim, unique but their is no question why you don't see these colours together more often, although it could have ended up much worse. The away is all-white but thankfully the orange left out of the equation with just light blue being used as a highlight colour.
Shenzhen Ruby (深圳红钻)
A team with a very quick rise to the top from it's inception in '94, they picked up successive league titles in the 2nd and 3rd tiers of Chinese football in their first 2 seasons of existence. It took a little bit of time for them to win the top prize but 10 years after being founded in 2004 they captured the elusive title. They are managed by Philippe Troussier who was the Japan manager at the 2002 World Cup and also Olympique Marseille manager for a year long stint. The forward line also contains New Zealand international Chris Killen who has played for a number of British sides. Although named Ruby, they actually play in blue and white stripes, the same kits as last season except with a change to the logo.
N.B. Please note that the 2011 version of the kits contain the new club logo rather than the one you see here.
Nanchang Hengyuan (南昌衡源)
Nanchang are quite a young club only being formed in 2003, last season in fact was the first in the club's history of playing top flight football, they managed to maintain this status with a 13th place finish. The team has got a new home strip for 2011, the shirt's all red with black sleeves and shoulders, the black on the shirt is a change from last season where the team used a dark blue as it's secondary colour. The away stays the same which is what can only be described as old Brazil teamwear but worse.
Qingdao Jonoon (青岛中能)
Qingdao managed to avoid the drop last season thanks to head-to-head results with both teams below them taking them to 14 years in the top-flight. They retain the same kits as previously, nothing special to be found here though, just teamwear in orange and reversed for the away kit.
Guangzhou Evergrande (广州恒大)
Champions of the Chinese 1st Division (2nd tier) last season and one of the clubs embroiled in the match fixing scandal who were relegated. After a season away though they're back, although they have a totally different look and image now, new logo and a new colour scheme maybe the drastic overhaul and change of image is to distance them from the shameful past events. The home kit kind of resembles the template used for Beijing Guoan, I'm not really a big fan of it, the shaping of the gold flashes looks very poor, although it does provide some more variety to the league, the away kit is exactly the same as the home but in white instead of red.
Chengdu Blades (成都谢菲联)
The other team caught up in the match fixing scandal last year, they too are back at the first time of asking. As their name and crest suggests they're owned by English Championship side Sheffield United FC, and as such players occasionally switch between the sides, such as former blades player Sun Jihai (孙继海) who helped them to regain a CSL spot last season. Although owned by Sheffield United the kit isn't the same because of the league's deal with Nike. They do however use red and white stripes with black shorts and socks so they still maintain the image. The away is yellow and blue in a team wear template.