There are two major ways to get tickets for Shenhua and SIPG games: ticket offices and touts. The third way is getting fleeced online, which you shouldn’t really do unless you’re desperate.
For Shanghai Shenhua games, tickets go go on sale about two weeks before kick off, and cost 50-100rmb. Due to increasingly strict crowd control regulations, 12% of the seats inside Hongkou Football Stadium (the home of Shenhua) are kept empty for safety reasons. This, along with Shenhua’s large fanbase, means that games sell out easier. The Shenhua ticket office is next to the KFC, near exit 1 of Hongkou Stadium metro station.
SIPG play their games at Shanghai Stadium in Xujiahui which is much bigger than Hongkou Stadium. Games rarely sell out. SIPG won the league last year, and although Shenhua games arguably have a better atmosphere, big names like Oscar and Hulk pull the fans in to SIPG. To get to the Shanghai Stadium ticket office, come out of exit 3 of the Shanghai Stadium metro station and take a right turn, and you’ll see a little office with a sign that says East Asia Ticket.
A large portion of a tout’s earnings on matchday comes from clueless foreigners. That being said, they are a viable option if you 1) can’t get one from the ticket office, or 2) are able to barter them down to ensure they don’t rip you off.
You shouldn’t pay much more than 100rmb unless it’s derby day, a game against Beijing Guo’an, or a top-of-the-table clash. For these tickets they will increase the price. Ignore claims that they have VIP tickets — provided you enter through the correct gate you can sit anywhere. Beware of fakes as well. If you are worried, get the tout to accompany you to the gate.
There are quite a few around, so if you decide to go for this option, just stand outside of either stadiums’ gates looking a little sad and confused.
A third option is to peruse Taobao. If you have previously bought from a seller or a ticket agency that comes recommended from a friend as being reliable then go for it. However, if you select one at random, you won’t know if they are real until you get the ticket, and the prices are likely to be ramped up, especially if it’s a big game. Don’t bother if you see someone selling a ticket for 1000rmb, even if you are an Arsenal fan and are used to paying that price.
A lot of the time it’s just people who can’t make the game and need to shift a single ticket, which could potentially work in your favor if your Mandarin is up to scratch and you know how to negotiate Taobao.