KUALA LUMPUR, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Super League side Shanghai Port FC, previously known as Shanghai SIPG, will take part in this year's Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League following the disqualification of Shandong Taishan FC, previously known as Shandong Luneng FC, the AFC said Thursday.
The AFC Competitions Committee has confirmed that the available AFC Champions League 2021 Group Position J1 slot left by Shandong Luneng FC, whose license has been withdrawn by the AFC Entry Control Body, is reallocated to Guangzhou FC (previously known as Guangzhou Evergrande), which is the next highest eligible club of the Chinese Football Association (CFA).
Similarly, applying the same principle, the AFC Champions League 2021 Group Stage slot, which is currently held by Guangzhou FC - Group Position I2 - has been reallocated to Beijing Guoan, who was previously given a playoff slot.
Hence, the playoff slot has been reallocated to Shanghai Port, who finished fourth in the 2020 Chinese Super League.
After the change, Guangzhou FC will join Port FC of Thailand, Kitchee SC of Hong Kong, China, and a playoff winner in Group J, while Beijing Guoan will face Japan's Kawasaki Frontale, United City FC of the Philippines, and a playoff winner in Group I.
If it wins the playoff round, Shanghai Port will join Group F, facing defending champion Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea, Thailand's BG Pathum United, Vietnam's Viettel FC and another playoff winner.
Shandong Taishan had qualified for the AFC Champions League as the Chinese FA Cup champion before the AFC independent Entry Control Body earlier this month made it invalid after the club failed to meet the criteria of "no payables overdue toward employees and social/tax authorities".