After winning all six of their home matches so far this season, Chinese Super League newboys Guangzhou R&F are to leave Yuexiushan stadium and move across town to the larger Guangzhou University City Stadium on the University campus.
Details are still emerging but it appears that the move was prompted by Yuexiushan’s failure to pass an inspection by the Chinese Football authorities due to concerns over security and the media facilities. The ruling will come as a blow to R&F because Yuexiushan has been a good hunting ground for them despite the fact that they only moved to Guangzhou from Shenzhen last season. Promotion to the Chinese Super League has been followed by a 100% home record which has seen R&F climb to second spot in the Chinese Super League table.
It has not yet been confirmed whether the move is permanent or only temporary whilst Yuexiushan is renovated, though manager Sergio Farias has come out and said he hopes the club will be back at the traditional home of Cantonese football very soon. It’s not all storm clouds, R&F hope that the switch will bring some benefits. A key one is an improved playing surface as the pitch at Yuexiushan is not all it could be; the turf was beginning to cut up only shortly after kick-off on Sunday due to the earlier rain and players slipping over is a common sight.
Officials will also hope for a positive impact on attendance, although it would be hard for this to get any worse. Despite Yuexiushan’s town centre location, average attendance is among the lowest in the Chinese Super League at a little over 5,000 per game if the derby is excluded. The new ground is further away from the city centre but is located within the Guangzhou Higher Education Mega Centre which has campuses of 10 universities with 120,000 students in total. With their low ticket prices (currently 30-50RMB), R&F will look to attract some of these students to boost attendance so that the current supporters are not lost in the 50,000 seats of the new stadium.
The move to a more modern stadium with actual seats will also make the viewing experience more comfortable than that offered by the current concrete bleachers. However, this is part of what gives Yuexiushan its character and makes it a great place to watch a match as standing is very easy.
The first chance to see R&F in action at the University City Stadium, one of the venues for the 2010 Asian Games, is scheduled to be against Changchun Yatai on Sunday 27 May. Club officials will be hoping for a large supporter turnout but the players and fans will be more concerned with carrying forward the current winning streak to their new ground.