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Shanghai Shenhua chairman says row over Drogba, Anelka not over yet

SHANGHAI -- The billionaire chairman of Chinese soccer club Shanghai Shenhua has said a boardroom dispute threatening the future of foreign stars including Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka is not over.

Drogba started Saturday's game against Liaoning Whowin, and scored their last 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, who also number Colombian midfielder Giovanni Moreno, 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 (US$23.6 million). 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 US$300,000 a week — made headlines around the world and highlighted a dramatic revamp of the corruption-plagued league.

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