The Hong Kong Football Association believes cheap tickets combined with a bonus ticket incentive scheme can help attract a crowd of 25,000 for the Lunar New Year Cup tournament, despite the weakened team line-ups.
The tournament at Hong Kong Stadium on January 26 and 29 features Czech champions Sparta Prague, South Korean champions Suwon Bluewings, and two Hong Kong sides - Team South China Pegasus and a Hong Kong League XI. Ticket prices per match will be HK$200 and HK$100, with students and pensioners gaining entry for HK$50.
To encourage a swift response when tickets go on sale on January 17, the HKFA will also offer one complimentary ticket for the Hong Kong v Bahrain 2011 Asian Cup qualifying match for each Lunar New Year Cup ticket purchased. Hong Kong will host Bahrain on January 21.
'We hope the cheap tickets will help bring in more fans to enjoy good festival football,' said HKFA chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak.
'The two overseas teams are both good, quality outfits, especially the Koreans led by their coach, football legend Cha Bum-kun. I do not believe having two local teams will affect the overall quality and we are expecting a very close-fought tournament.'
The ticket prices reflect almost a 50 per cent reduction from last year, which attracted 21,000 fans with the most expensive ticket set at HK$380.
The Hong Kong teams will play each other on January 26, with Sparta Prague v Suwon Bluewings the other match that day. The two winners will meet in the final on January 29, while the losers will meet for the third-place play-off. 'We have to make sure that one home team will make it into the final so that there will be something for the fans to cheer on the second day,' said Leung.
Hong Kong League XI won the title at the last tournament when they defeated Croatian side Hajduk Split 2-1 in the final.
South China convener Steven Lo Kit-sing said they were working hard to secure players from Japan and South Korea to strengthen the joint team, including former Japanese international Masayuki Okano.
'We are still in negotiations with several overseas players, but I can promise a good tournament. South China are leading in the league, while Pegasus just won the Senior Shield. A joint team with the addition of guest players should be strong enough to lift the title,' said Lo.