Fan groups have an overhaul of UEFA’s disgraceful treatment of supporters after being allocated only a third of tickets for European final showdowns.
A group of supporters have claimed UEFA are “cashing in” on Champions League and Europa League final tickets and have called for “transparency”.
Some tickets are sold by third-party websites for incredible prices of up to £5,500.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp also expressed his opinion on the matter and called for more “sensible and reasonable” decisions when it comes to where finals are hosted.
Klopp said he sympathised with supporters facing hiked prices for flights and hotel rooms, and with the challenge facing supporters travelling to Baku, Azerbaijan to watch the Europa League final between Chelsea and Arsenal on May 29.
Fans will need a visa to enter Azerbaijan and London-based supporters in particular will have to make a long 2,468-mile journey to Baku Olympic Stadium.
“How can you have finals in Kiev [where Liverpool played last year’s Champions League final] and Baku? I don’t know what these travel guys have for breakfast.”
Liverpool and Tottenham supporters will share 33, 226 tickets for the Champions League final in Madrid, though the stadium accommodates 68,000 people.
Chelsea and Arsenal supporters will share 12,000 of the 68,700 seats in Baku.
The demand to watch the final in Madrid saw Tottenham say they will open their stadium to maximum capacity to allow “as many fans as possible who are not able to get to Madrid the chance to come together for the match”.
The game will be live on four high-definition screens within the stadium bowl, with adult and kids tickets going for £10 and £15, respectively.
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino also said he “suffering” for Spurs and Liverpool supporters because of the cost of travelling to Madrid for the final on June 1.
“Yesterday I was calling some hotel to try and book some rooms because I don’t know if my family is going to be there, some family, some people from Argentina,” said Pochettino.
“I wanted to book and it was so difficult and the prices are so crazy.”
UEFA said its “recent experience” with finals in “comparable venues” meant “the number of finalists’ supporters requesting tickets for a UEFA Europa League final can vary greatly from club to club”.
“Of course, it is impossible to predict in advance which clubs will reach the final while the venue has to be chosen around two years in advance,” it said in a statement.
“Taking into consideration the above and most importantly the geographical location and logistical capacity of airports in and around the host city, it was deemed that around 15,000 spectators would be able to travel from abroad (this includes finalists’ fans and general public), with Baku as the main hub.”
It continued that “offering more tickets to fans of the participating teams, without any guarantee that they would be able to arrange suitable travel to reach Baku, was therefore not a responsible option”.
“Based on these circumstances, for this year’s UEFA Europa League final in Baku, 6,000 tickets have been made available to each of the finalists.”
Supporters’ team up to attack UEFA
Liverpool fans’ union Spirit of Shankly and the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust released a joint statement, criticising a “measly allocation from UEFA” for the final in Madrid.
The two groups called for a limit of ticket pricing, transparency over allocation and protection for supporters to stop flight and hotel prices being skyrocketed.
“There needs to be transparency from Uefa and both clubs in how tickets are priced and allocated,” the statement read.
“It is time to stop cashing in on fan loyalty. For many, the final is not a one-off event. It is the culmination of a season-long journey for fans, who have spent thousands of pounds already travelling to support their team, bringing the spectacle and atmosphere that is a key part of the game so prized by television.”
Arsenal described their ticket allocation “disappointing” and claimed it presented the club with “extreme difficulties” for their final in Baku.
Arsenal Supporters’ Trust concurred with the statement made by Liverpool and Tottenham supporters, adding, “AST backs every word. We are working with them and all supporters groups to fight the disgraceful way that Uefa treats supporters. Not just at finals but at every stage.
“Uefa’s treatment and attitude toward fans needs a fundamental overhaul.”
Uefa’s official regulations for both the Europa League and Champions League state the body “owns all rights relating to tickets and decides on the number of tickets to be allocated to the finalists”.
However, the rules state ticket allocations “do not have to be equal” and add that UEFA along with the association of the country staging the final determines prices.
Tickets that are not allocated to clubs are split between the public, broadcasters, national associations, commercial partners and UEFA.
Face-value seats for the Champions League final are priced starting at £60 and £513, while the Europa League showpiece range from £26 and £121.
Liverpool and Spurs fans said face-value tickets costing over £500 were “exorbitant”, and some for final at Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid have already appeared for resale on ticketgum.com priced at £5,500 each.
Hiked flight prices are another major concern, with Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram tweeting Easyjet to find out why some prices had increased by 683%, describing the situation as “entirely shameful”.
“It must be the worst location there is”.
Chelsea Supporter’s Trust called the 6,000-seat allocation “totally inadequate” but Tim Rolls, who is a member of the board, said fans were more frustrated by the difficulties in reaching Baku Olympic Stadium, which won the bid to host the final ahead of Seville and Istanbul.
Rolls himself has booked a flight to Tbilisi, Georgia, before connecting with a seven-hour bus journey.
“Baku is one of the most inaccessible cities in Europe from the UK,” said Rolls. “There are few flights and those there are are prohibitively expensive.
“The Chelsea and Arsenal £979 charter flight is ludicrously expensive and prohibitive.
“The people who have been to a load of Chelsea games and away from home – maybe 40 to 50 matches this season – simply cannot go. It must be about the worst location there is.”