A Chinese state body has reportedly taken control of the development of the world’s biggest football stadium due to owner Evergrande Group’s financial troubles.

Work on the 100,000-capacity Guangzhou Evergrande Football Stadium, valued at $1.86bn, was halted earlier this year, according to Reuters, due to the real estate company’s debt problems.

The news agency now reports that the authorities have taken over the project with a view to selling it or acquiring it via the state-owned Guangzhou City Construction Investment Group. It has also been suggested the debt-laden group could sell Guangzhou FC, which has won the Chinese Super League eight times since being acquired by Evergrande for $15m in 2010.

Evergrande declined to comment, according to Reuters. In September, it said work on the stadium was proceeding “as normal”.

Construction of Guangzhou FC’s new home began in April last year for completion by the end of 2022, with the project also including a separate sports complex. The design of the lotus-shaped stadium was that of Shanghai-based American architect Hasan Syed. The stadium, located adjacent to Guangzhou South railway station, will have a floor area of around 150,000 square metres.

Evergrande Real Estate currently owns more than 1,300 projects in more than 280 cities across China. After a period of aggressive expansion, it is now struggling to service debts of more than $300bn and its share price has fallen by around 80% this year.

Guangzhou FC coach Fabio Cannavaro, Italy’s World Cup-winning captain, departed the club in September 2021 as the club’s owners’ problems became apparent.