“It wasn’t there, but it is!”
Jeju United won 2-0 against Incheon United in the 12th round of ‘Hanawon Q K League 1 2023’ at Jeju World Cup Stadium at 7:30 pm on the 10th. As a result, Jeju was in a state of shock when they recorded 4 consecutive wins and 2 home wins in a row.
The number of spectators in Jeju that day was 4,124. It may feel like a small number, but it should be taken into account that it is a weekday night game held in Jeju Island. It was much higher than Jeju’s average attendance of 3,100 last season. Recently, the trend of spectators in Jeju was great, so it felt rather small. Recently, more than 10,000 home fans came to Jeju, surprising them.
Jeju is a place where many spectators cannot come because of the environment. In addition, it is located in Seogwipo, which is located in the center of Jeju and not in downtown Jeju, where Jeju Airport is located, but about an hour away. It is difficult for people on land who come by plane to get there, but the same is true for Jeju residents. Jeju residents always say that ‘one hour on land is different from one hour in Jeju’. Jeju World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo is not attractive because an hour away feels very far.
Jeju has a population of 680,000, but most of them, 490,000, live in Jeju City. Even within Seogwipo, only about 100,000 people can come to the stadium. Tourism, service, and agriculture are the main areas, so it is difficult to enjoy the game even looking at the shape of the local economy. It is not strange to see it as a ‘football wasteland’, but spectators are flocking to Jeju recently. Is it simply because of the soccer boom? no.
It was supported by the tremendous efforts of the Jeju club. Jeju actively induced reservations for groups of 30 or more at the club level. Regardless of children or adults who are interested in soccer, if you apply for more than 30 people, you will get a discount and send a shuttle bus to the area to take you to the Jeju World Cup Stadium. A shuttle bus goes anywhere in Jeju. You can kick a ball in the club house on a first-come, first-served basis, high-five the players, and experience mini-games on the ground before the game.
I didn’t just start sending shuttle buses. According to a Jeju official, “There was a survey targeting fans who enjoy professional football. There was an item, ‘If I send a shuttle bus, would you come to the game?’ “Based on this data, we are cooperating by discussing with the local government of Jeju to formulate a related budget. It became a basis for supplementary budgeting even when the budget was exceeded.”
While continuing to talk with soccer clubs in each province, we are actively encouraging them to visit the stadium. We are creating an atmosphere that makes it impossible not to come by adding additional events. It is rumored that Operation Shuttle Bus integrates the invisible emotions that existed between Jeju City and Seogwipo City.
The Incheon Jeon reporter looked around the stadium. There were more middle and high school students and children than other stadiums. When he asked a Jeju official why, he said, “I made a connection with the school trip program.” It was another operation in Jeju. Before the season, a promotional message, “Come on a school trip and let’s watch soccer,” was put in the Jeju tourism booklet, and schools that saw this contacted them, and students on the school trip came to see the game in large numbers.
Of course it’s not free. They offer discounts, but come at a fee. From Jeju’s point of view, if the number of spectators increases and profits are made, even young fans watching Jeju games can be secured. It is definitely taking advantage of the large number of young people who come to Jeju Island on school trips. Each student takes a selfie to get a life shot, gathers in twos and threes, buys delicious food, and watches the game. During the game, Jeju announces the name of the visiting school by floating it on the display board, and the cheers that resonate every time are amazing.
As much as the youthful atmosphere is formed in the stadium, Jeju is carrying out hip marketing. While holding a clothing contest to come to the stadium, they show off their own fashion, and cool fans are selected and displayed on the billboard. Photos taken by fans are posted on the club’s social media to highlight them. It is impressive to see that they do not stop at attracting fans to the stadium, but try to keep them interested and stay.안전놀이터
Director Nam Ki-il, Ahn Hyun-beom, and Koo Ja-cheol were also surprised by the increased number of spectators. Manager Nam Gi-il said, “Jeju fans are enjoying soccer. I am grateful to the club for their hard work.” Ahn Hyun-beom said, “We do it as usual, but the shouts are louder, so we have more confidence. I want to win more.” Koo Ja-cheol also said, “Today, more than the average crowd of last season came. Thank you very much.”
The marketing slogan that Jeju’s parent company, SK Energy, has recently introduced is “It didn’t exist, but it exists!” Borrowing an expression that was popular among the MZ generation, they are promoting ESG eco-friendly management. You can bring it to Jeju as it is. Made things that didn’t exist. The marketing carried out with various ingenious ideas is producing successful results. A Jeju official hinted that there are still many things planned.
Jeju, which is working hard in a soccer wasteland, seems to be a great example for other clubs who want to mobilize spectators amid the recent fever of soccer.