Tickets sell out in 5 mins as fans wait for return of Chinese Super League
Published: Apr 13, 2023 10:24 PM
An overall view of the newly-rebuilt Workers' Stadium Photo: Li Hao/GT

An overall view of the newly-rebuilt Workers' Stadium Photo: Li Hao/GT

 Soccer fans in China are eagerly awaiting the return of the Chinese Super League (CSL) as the highly anticipated 2023 season is set to kick off this weekend.

After almost three years of playing in a tournament bubble due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans can look forward to the return of home and away matches, with stadiums able to operate at full capacity.

The season's opening ceremony will take place at the newly rebuilt Workers' Stadium in Beijing, which has a capacity of 68,000 people. This iconic venue underwent extensive renovations to modernize its facilities and enhance the fan experience, making it the perfect location for the start of a new era in Chinese soccer.

An example of the sport's popularity lies in the ticket sales for the season-opening game. The tickets for Beijing Guoan's home game against Meizhou Hakka, the first game at the rebuilt stadium, sold out in just five minutes after they were available on Thursday.

The upcoming season will see a reduction in the number of teams, from 18 to 16 due to several clubs' unpromising financial situations. 

The issue of financial sustainability has been an ongoing concern for the Chinese Super League after years of spending that saw a surge in soccer fever. The sport's governing body, the Chinese Football Association (CFA), has implemented policies to address this problem and prevent teams from engaging in unsustainable spending practices.

One such policy is the introduction of "Financial Fair Play" regulations, which require clubs to maintain a sustainable financial structure. Clubs are required to submit regular financial reports to the CFA and face penalties if they fail to comply with regulations. 

The CFA has also limited the number of foreign players that clubs can sign and introduced salary caps for players and coaches. These measures are intended to promote financial stability and ensure that clubs operate sustainably in the long term.

By promoting financial sustainability, the CFA hopes to create a stable and competitive league that can attract fans and investment while avoiding the boom-and-bust cycles that paved the way for corruption. The success of these policies will be closely watched by fans as well, as the implementation of the policies could determine the future of China's domestic soccer.

Defending champions Wuhan Three Towns face a significant challenge defending their title. Despite their impressive record in the previous season, the team will face stiff competition for the title from Shandong Taishan and Zhejiang, who finished second and third respectively last season. Shanghai Port, who finished fourth in the previous season, are also expected to be strong contenders.

The CSL has seen significant growth in recent years, attracting top international players and coaches until the pandemic put a halt to the development. With the new season promising to be competitive and exciting, soccer fans are looking forward to seeing who will emerge as the top teams in the CSL for the 2023 season.