Two Chinese clubs relegated for matchfixing

BEIJING - Two top-flight Chinese clubs have been relegated to the second division after club officials were found guilty of matchfixing and gambling, state media reported on Monday.

The Chinese Football Association's (CFA) disciplinary committee had decided to relegate Guangzhou GPC and Chengdu Blades, the China Daily newspaper said on its website, citing the governing body.

The teams would have the right to appeal, the paper added.

The president of Chengdu, owned by Championship side Sheffield United, was arrested last month in a probe into matchfixing in the country, which has seen more than 20 officials arrested or detained, including the CFA's former chief Nan Yong.

The CFA said that 16 teams would still play in the new Chinese Super League season, though replacements are yet to be named. The season is set to kick off on March 20, but ongoing police investigations could disrupt those plans, officials have said.

The match-fixing crackdown followed calls by top Communist Party officials to clean up the professional game in China, which has long been regarded as a national disgrace, riven with corruption, violence, low playing standards and dwindling crowds.