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CBA’s 5-year plan : A small step towards further reform

By Yutang Sports Friday, 07 Jul 2017 15:47

The CBA League (Beijing) launched a new competition plan for the 2017-2022 seasons at a recent press conference held on June 30, which has been regarded as a major first step in the reform of the CBA and China basketball. However, many sports industry specialists in China seem to regard it with less significance than expected viewing it as just a "small step towards further reform in the basketball sector".

Xinhua Agency’s veteran basketball journalist Xu Jicheng shared his opinion after the plan’s launch. Compared with the reforms that took place in the 2004-2005 season, he considers these new measures as ‘adjustment’ measures, rather than ‘reform’ measures. “Indeed, there are some highlights in the new plan. However, all the measures in this plan remain small-scale and lack strength.” said Xu, “This new plan might aim at paving the way for further reforms in the CBA and basketball in China.”

The following are the major measures of the CBA’s new 5-year new plan.

1. Length of each season

To assist with Team China's preparations and training for the 2019 FIBA World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, next season‘s CBA league will see 38 rounds of regular season games (the same as the 2016-17 season) with 10 teams competing in the playoffs, an increase from the current 8 teams. 

However from the 2018-2019 season, the number of regular season games will increase to 46. Every club will play each other twice, on a home and away basis. There will be 5 games every two weeks from Tuesday to Sunday. In terms of the playoffs, 2 more teams will qualify to compete in the playoffs until the 2021-2022 season, bringing the total number of playoff teams to 12.  

Further adjustments will take place from the 2021-2022 season, where the CBA will see 56 rounds of regular season games. 

2. CBA teams roster

The CBA will not add any new teams in the following 5 years. This decision was jointly made by every clubs’ stakeholders but it does not mean thatthe CBA will not add any new teams in the future.

3. Overseas Player Policy 

The overseas player policy has been slightly adjusted. 

In the 2017-2018 season, each club can register two overseas players, while the teams ranked in the bottom 6 of the 20 teams from the 2016-17 season can bring in one more overseas player from Asian countries, meaning they will have three overseas players in total. But from the 2018-2019 season to the 2021-2022 season, only the two teams finishing in the bottom two places can have that extra Asian player.

4. Player transfer and salary cap 

Due to the current competition rules and system, CBA players are not yet able to transfer to other teams freely and it is unlikely this will change in the short term. Meanwhile, clubs’ stakeholders have noticed the booming rise in players‘ salaries, but the CBA needs more time to set a salary cap because of the lack of financial regulations in the CBA.

5. Professionalization of CBA referees 

It is expected that CBA’s referees will become professional in the next 8 to 10 years. In recent years, the referee issue has become such a significant problem in the CBA’s development that changes are a must. 

However, the CBA is very different to other leagues such as the NBA. As a result, the CBA have to spend more time exploring new methods and approaches to promote the professionalisation process, like developing young referees to form a new professionalized referee roster. 

6. No exclusive media rights to be sold

With CBA’s former business operator Infront China losing the business operating rights of the CBA, the Chinese National Sports Administration has transferred these rights to the CBA company, allowing them to develop the business by themselves. 

In terms of the broadcasting rights, the CBA company will not sell CBA’s exclusive media rights to any sole broadcaster, in order to seek more partners for the league. Meanwhile, the CBA will take new media’s demands and needs into consideration and deliver differentiated services to them.


All the measures listed above demonstrates thatno significant adjustment will take place in the CBA over the next 5 years. Having operated for 22 years, the CBA has become the highest-level basketball league in China. Aggressive reforms always come with high risks, which is the main reason why the CBA started their new reforms with such a series of “slight adjustment”. 

Source: Tencent Sports

Proofread by Raymond Fitzpatrick

Tags: CBA


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