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Holland transfer a done deal as corruption ban hits United's Asian opponent

Soccer

Adelaide United midfielder James Holland’s on-again-off-again transfer to China’s Liaoning FC is signed and sealed, with his manager confirming he would join Socceroos teammate Robbie Kruse at the club.

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Kruse, who has won 48 caps for the Socceroos, has left Bayer Leverkusen in Germany – which he joined from Fortuna Duesseldorf in 2013 – where he failed to secure regular game time and has made no appearances in the Bundesliga this season.

United had conceded Holland had flown the coop, but the transfer appeared in doubt this week amid uncertainty over changes to the Chinese federation’s imports rule.

But the pair’s agent Ante Alilovic said on Twitter: “Glad to announce that James Holland & Robbie Kruse have signed with Liaoning FC in China.”

Meanwhile, United will face a new Asian Champions League schedule after their looming group stage opponent – K-League giant Jeonbuk Motors – was banned from the 2017 competition overnight.

The South Korean ACL champions will be unable to defend their title over their involvement in a 2013 bribery scandal, the league announced.

Jeonbuk, who knocked out Melbourne Victory 3-2 on aggregate in last year’s round of 16, were docked nine points and fined $US91,000 by the K-League’s disciplinary committee in September for payments a club scout made to referees.

The club, who finished second in last season’s K-League Classic, were crowned champions of Asia in November after sealing a 3-2 aggregate victory over United Arab Emirates team Al Ain.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors “is ineligible to participate in AFC competitions for the 2017 season due to its indirect involvement in activities aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of matches during the 2013 and 2014 K-League seasons,” the AFC said in a statement.

“Such indirect involvement was found to be in contravention of Article 11.8 of the Entry Manual for the AFC Club Competitions 2017-2020.

“As such, Jeonbuk… was deemed not to have met the sporting criteria to participate in the AFC Champions League 2017.”

In May, prosecutors charged two referees in South Korea’s top league with accepting bribes totalling $US4,300 from a Jeonbuk Motors club scout.

The scout was sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term for bribery by the Busan District Court.

Korea’s Jeju United FC will take Jeonbuk’s place in Group H while Ulsan Hyundai will replace Jeju in the playoffs for the 2017 AFC Champions League.

-Reuters

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