x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Shanghai chairman's new threat to club over salary for Drogba and Anelka

The future of foreign stars such as Didier Drogba at the Chinese club remains in doubt after billionaire tycoon Zhu Jun set a deadline for his demands to be met.

Didier Drogba with his Shanghai Shenhua teammates ahead of their match with Liaoning Whowin
Didier Drogba with his Shanghai Shenhua teammates ahead of their match with Liaoning Whowin

The billionaire chairman of Chinese football club Shanghai Shenhua insists the mystery boardroom dispute threatening the future of foreign stars - including former Chelsea pair Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka - has not been resolved.

Drogba started Saturday's game against Liaoning Whowin, and scored the third goal in a 3-0 win, after Shenhua head coach Sergio Batista said the row had been "basically resolved".

But Zhu Jun, a flamboyant online gaming tycoon who has bankrolled the club for years and reportedly threatened to withhold the salaries of foreign players, denied any deal.

He is said to be demanding other shareholders grant him majority control of the club and on his microblog - China's equivalent to Twitter - issued a new deadline for agreement to be reached by the end of the month.

"Now, I made a difficult decision to believe you one more time, one last time! And this time I have a deadline: two weeks," Zhu said at the weekend, without giving details of the dispute or saying to whom the message was aimed.

Media reports say that under a 2007 deal, Zhu's 28.5 percent stake in Shanghai Shenhua was supposed to rise to 70 percent if he invested more than 150 million yuan (Dh86.7m). Zhu has reportedly spent about 600 million yuan.

The state-backed Shanghai Youth Daily newspaper on Monday quoted an unnamed source as saying: "If this issue is not resolved satisfactorily, from October Zhu Jun might take action.

"If the issue of Drogba's salary is still not effectively handled, he might again book a ticket home."

Shenhua are now ninth in the 16-club Chinese Super League.

The signing of the ex-Chelsea players -- for reported salaries in excess of $300,000 a week -- made headlines around the world and highlighted a dramatic revamp of the corruption-plagued league.

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