By Michael Church
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng have said they have taken "emergency measures" to try to reverse their expulsion from this year's Asian Champions League.
Shandong, who qualified for the continental event by winning the Chinese FA Cup last year, were removed from the competition on Monday due to "overdue payables" that led to the Asian Football Confederation cancelling the club's license to play in the tournament.
Shandong said in a statement on Tuesday they "took emergency measures immediately to respond to the situation" after receiving notification from the AFC.
"We are currently working on the issue," the statement added.
Shandong have 10 days from being informed of the decision to appeal their expulsion from the competition, which has been expanded from 32 to 40 teams for the 2021 edition.
Chinese media reported on Tuesday that Shandong had been expelled because of the club’s failure to comply with a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to pay an outstanding amount to a former member of ex-coach Felix Magath's staff.
Russia-based legal firm SILA International Lawyers, who are representing Shandong, refused to comment on the case when approached by Reuters because proceedings are ongoing.
Shandong had been drawn to play in Group J of the Asian Champions League alongside Thailand’s Port FC, Kitchee from Hong Kong and the winner of a series of playoffs featuring Japan’s Cerezo Osaka, Melbourne City from Australia and Shan United of Myanmar.
Should Shandong’s challenge to their expulsion not be successful, the club will be replaced by Shanghai SIPG as China's fourth representative alongside Chinese Super League winners Jiangsu Suning, Guangzhou Evergrande and Beijing Guoan.
(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Christian Radnedge)