Update: Beijing Guoan season ticket applications will start being accepted on Thursday, December 22nd and will last through Tuesday, December 27th. As with
last year, applications can only be submitted online and all information is in Chinese. The website to visit to submit an application is www.liansaipiao.com. Whether foreigners will be able to submit an application over that site or need to visit Yongle’s offices is as of yet unknown, as we get further information, we will be sure to provide it here.
Beijing Guoan season tickets are expected to go on sale this week and will once again be sold exclusively through the much hated Yongle ticket service (228.com.cn). For the second straight season, there is expected to be a price jump, though this year’s hike will be a massive RMB150 raise in costs to RMB500 (in 2011 it was RMB350, in 2010 it was RMB260). For me and a lot of the fans, this raise in prices isn’t a big deal, it will give us access to all 15 league matches, the three ACL matches, and at least one (more likely two or three) CFA Cup matches. Plus, when compared to prices paid overseas, it’s an amazing deal. While one can complain of the sudden rise, especially since there will be even more seats available due to Gongti’s expansion, for the most part it’s fair and most people are willing to accept it. That said, I have some suggestions for my beloved Guoan as to how they can make things better.
1. Different price points
As it stands now, every fan who buys a season ticket will pay RMB500, but unless they request one of the two fan’s sections, they will be randomly placed somewhere in the stadium. Therefore, it’s the luck of the draw, you could get a seat at midfield or you may be stuck behind the goal. The Yulinjun (“Royal Army”), which sits in the north stand pays the same as the fan group that sits in the best seats in the house. This is unfair and hopefully the club works on adjusting this.
2. The luck of the draw
Along with point 1, unless you request to sit in one of the two fan sections, you are assigned a section randomly. You could be sitting in the southwest corner in 2011 and then be in the northeast corner in 2012. This makes it hard to create a community with the fans around you and hurts the atmosphere. This may seem like a minor point, but the club and Yongle should do more to put groups of 5 or 6 friends together.
3. Student tickets
For even the average working man in Beijing, RMB500 is doable for a season ticket, but for a lot of students, it may not be so easy. Give students a break, nothing major, but 15-25%, to show you care, to show you want these young fans to be fans for life. If you’re worried about fakes, make every student show a student ID and check that it matches the name on the ticket.
4. Promotional discounts with a season ticket
This year, the club signed a deal with Megabox theaters where showing your Guoan season ticket during the 2011 season would get you the member’s discount off movie tickets. It’s nothing major, only saving fans RMB20 (the price of a membership card), but it’s a nice touch and it’s even better because Megabox is the closest movie theater to Worker’s Stadium. This is great, but it would be better if the club worked out similar agreements with other businesses around the stadium. There’s no official club shop, but former Guoan player Han Xu runs a sporting good shop that is the only place at the stadium to buy official nike Guoan gear, working out a deal where season ticket holders get 10% shouldn’t be hard. It’s a small discount, but it’s a nod that you care about the fans and it might convince a few more fans to buy the real deal (and earn money for the club) over the fakes sold outside the North Gate. Some businesses around the stadium have gotten smart and offered discounts to Guoan season ticket holders independent of the club, it would be great to see the club step up.
5. Make the season ticket a card
This is the most minor (and personal) of them all, but I’ve heard this complaint from others as well. Last year’s season ticket was a large placard, too big for a pocket and almost required you to have a bag with you if you didn’t want to wear it around your neck. Make next year’s season ticket credit card sized so it’s easy to carry around and so people will have it with them so they can get the discounts that hopefully the club will negotiate.
And here’s one more suggestion, a personal one that I’d be glad to help with:
Have information available in English
This year foreigners were unable to apply for season tickets online. They had to go to Yongle’s offices to complete the application, but the only way to find that out was by contacting them (and they didn’t have English services). According to Yongle, only two foreigners bothered going through the hassle of the process. Throughout the season, more and more foreigners were showing up at Worker’s Stadium, at the very least the club should have information available in English on their website.
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