Thirteen Chinese Super League clubs have been told to clear debts or face a ban from the competition next season.
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) wrote to all but three of the country’s 16 top-flight clubs, as well as five lower-league teams.
The CFA claimed the clubs had outstanding debts on player transfers, salaries or bonuses.
Many of the teams deny the claims, including Shanghai SIPG, who paid £60m for Brazil midfielder Oscar in January.
The CFA’s letter follows a similar move by the Asian Football Confederation, which wrote to the CFA on 11 July stating that clubs had until 31 August to clear all outstanding payments or face exclusion from next year’s Asian Champions League.
Guangzhou Evergrande, two-time winners of the Asian Champions League, were among the clubs contacted, the CFA said.
In a statement on social media, Shanghai SIPG said they had “fully paid all of the arrears last October” and had “submitted its evidence to the CFA”.
Jiangsu Suning, Shandong Luneng and Beijing Guoan issued similar statements while Shanghai Shenhua, who signed Carlos Tevez for a reported £40m in December, said they were investigating and would finalise outstanding payments as soon as possible.
Chinese football authorities have sought to crack down on spending, with new regulations put in place that mean loss-making clubs are hit with a 100% tax on signing players from overseas,effectively doubling transfer fees.
The CFA has also reduced the number of overseas playerspermitted in matchday squads.