'The People’s Liberation Army Bayi Football Club’ 1927 - 2003
This shirt has been sitting in our studio, this is a familiar story, for years; I've always assumed it was a mid 90's Chinese National Side shirt. I was wrong.
I sent these images over to numerous people, and having scoured Eastern Europe, Asia & North Africa for leads we were none the wiser. Then popped up @burnout.404 on Instagram to save the day.
And this is what we've since found out.
‘The People’s Liberation Army Bayi Football Club’ essentially the football team of the Chinese Army competed in the Chinese Football League System between 1951 & 2003.
The club was formed in 1927, after the Nanchang Uprising; an armed resistance led by the Chinese Communist forces to counter the anti-communist purges by the Kuomintang. Military sports are the product of a planned economic system
Starting as an amateur side; though being able to pick the best players from every Chinese army team meant they became a strong side, competing in the inaugural Chinese National Football League Tournament. They won 5 league titles nationally. Many players played for both The Bayi Team & the Chinese National Side.
In 1994 the Chinese Football League became professional. The Bayi team were granted special dispensation to continue as a semi professional side; all their players were current military members & they abstained from signing foreigners. Many of the regional army sides had ceased before this so their crop of potential players had decreased, players started leaving the Bayi for more lucrative offers elsewhere. The Bayi moved between cities to accommodate for their sponsors.
However, they continually faced unprecedented financial challenges and the, then Chinese Super League decided The Bayi were a drain on their resources. The teams closure coincided with their loss of form, as they were relegated in 2003.