A Chinese Super League (CSL) game between two AFC Championship quarterfinalists, Shenzhen Jianlibo and Shandong Luneng, was unable to draw an attendance above 1,000. Meanwhile, the ticket income of the match between host Qingdao and Beijing Guoan was a very low 14,700 yuan (US$1,814).
The CSL's "decay to another Asian trash league " is speeding up, said a report in the latest Sports Weekly.
The game between Shandong and Shenzhen, the CSL champions -- both of whom advanced from the group stage of the AFC Champions League -- deserves the limelight of this round of seven CSL matches, but no more than 1,000 came to watch at the stadium in Shenzhen, where rich fans used to congregate in this affluent city in South China.
With the average attendance of this round lingering below 10,000, the ticket income of the Qingdao and Beijing match was an embarrassing 14,700 yuan. What's more, tickets are easy to get with it costing no more than 20 yuan to watch top games of League leaders Dalian Shide.
Dalian Shide has set up an early head-to-shoulder advantage with a ten-point cushion only three games into the second half of the 14-team CSL, in which the FA (Football Association) has abolished promotion and relegation in exchange for clubs' nod at the free use by the national team of their star players.
The measure of sacrificing the league for a better preparation of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games has drawn wide dispute since it first started. It is blamed as one of the main factors of the CSL's disintegration.
Short of advertisement income and viewers, TV stations at the provincial level, such as the Sichuan TV, are beginning to withdraw from broadcasting league games.
"The CSL has fallen to its trough. All are depending on the comeback of promotion and relegation " said Lang Xiaolong, director of the League Department of China's FA.
But the Sports Daily believe to save the CSL is not as easy as just reinstalling promotion and relegation, citing an ironical contrast between the Super League with Super Girls, an entertaining idol-choosing TV program red-hot throughout China and loved by CSL players.
"The Super Girls have beaten the Super players, " the newspaper said.