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Uefa risk own goal with ticket prices

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Gordon Farquhar | 15:14 UK time, Friday, 27 May 2011

Uefa took a decision in 2007 to switch the night of the Champions League final from midweek to Saturday. The plan came into effect last year for the final between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan in Madrid and will presumably continue until European football's governing body changes its mind again.

This new timing, said Uefa president Michel Platini at the time, was in response to the paucity of families and children in the crowd for the midweek final between Liverpool and AC Milan in Athens. Platini said the move to Saturday would allow more of them to attend because the kids would not have school the next day.

This dose of medicine was not to be swallowed for the Europa Cup final, however, as "one on Saturday is enough". So bad luck if you happen to be of school age and your team reaches that dizzy height. You will just have to yawn through class the next day.

There is a flaw in Platini's thinking. Let's face it, the only kids who will attend Saturday's Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona will be at private schools. Their parents are surely able to pay school fees and therefore are the only ones likely to also be able to afford the astronomical ticket prices being charged for the showpiece event at Wembley.

OK, I jest slightly but it is observational humour. Plenty of fans have expressed the view that Uefa is "having a laugh" with their pricing structure for Wembley. You might fail to see the funny side if you have forked out even the minimum starting price for "neutrals" watching the game in the general admissions areas of £150 plus £26 booking fee.

If you want to take your partner and both kids, you are in for a bill of more than £600 before travel, refreshments and programmes take that to nearer £750, I imagine. Some discounts have been sorted for children but those packages are limited in number and only available in the more expensive Category B areas.

The 50,000 tickets reserved for fans of both clubs start a fair bit less but that is still a relative concept at £80 for Category D tickets, some 15% more than in Madrid last year.

Enough people have had a loud enough moan about these prices for Uefa to express a little contrition, with Platini conceding that it might have made an error.

"It was a mistake, it was not good," he told reporters in London recently. "But it is not easy to decide the price of the tickets in the Champions League final.

"We have received 200,000 requests for 10,000 tickets and now if you want to buy the tickets on the black market these tickets are 10 times the price that we decided. Perhaps in the future we have to have a new category for families that is less expensive. But if you put those on the black market, how much will they cost?"

Uefa argued the price was commensurate with the occasion. Evidence of what people are prepared to pay on the black market, thousands of pounds for the cheapest seats, tends to lend weight to the argument that they could charge more and still sell out.

But isn't that missing the point? The Champions League is monumentally well supported by sponsors falling over themselves for the chance to promote their products to their target market. Beer, razors, cars, blokes, kerching! The Saturday night switch just enhances that marketing opportunity, keeping the broadcasters happy with optimum viewing figures and people watching for longer.

Revenue from ticket sales pales into insignificance alongside the broadcast deals, so the whole event is something of a cash cow. Just for once, perhaps Uefa - and everyone else in a similar position - could stop milking the fans who pay to watch, too.


  • Comment number 1.


  • Comment number 2.

    The sad reality of the modern game. The over inflated ticket prices that mean I cannot go. Wish we had German football over here. I wouldn't mind the lack of quality if I could go to a game now and then.

  • Comment number 3.

    Why don`t UEFA have the tickets for all their finals set very cheaply for the supporters whose clubs reach the final. Say 10 pounds or less. Seeing as they make so much money from the sponsors, and neutrals paying max 20 pound, then most fans would be happy. The cheap prices would be a reward for all those faithful fans who had been to their clubs previous rounds of matches in the competitions.

    It`s about time that football became the peoples` game once again.

  • Comment number 4.

    UEFA know that people will want to be at the CL final no matter what team gets through , its shameless marketing .
    Why on a Saturday ? Well last year a Major sponsor gave that away , "Two Games , Two Finals , One Day" , this year they managed to miss it by a week . The exposure that company got from one day last year !!! This year separate Saturdays , maybe again next year the same day ?
    There are more people able to watch a game on a Saturday on TV than a Wednesday , so really , its shameless marketing .
    If it made sense for attendance porposes why not switch the Europa League to Saturday aswell?
    The one thing I am surprised at is that the kick-off hasnt been made earlier , to accomomodate Eastern European markets (YET).

  • Comment number 5.

    The price of the United vs Barca final tickets is nothing short of a discrgace.
    I paid just £12 in 1999 for my ticket for the final at the Nou Camp. I can think of no justification for this massive price-hike other than profiteering by all concerned. The fans deserve better. It is shameful.
    This article sums it all up nicely.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    I am a fanatical loyal United fan. A Season ticket holder who goes to every home game including champions league games at £56 a ticket. I was unsuccessful in the ballot and because i can NOT find AT LEAST £1500 ( plus travelling expenses) for a ticket on the black market i have been deprived of watching my team in the final. How do UEFA allow so many tickets to be sold on line at up to 50 times face value. Some web sites are offereing tickets up to £20000 !!This final is now only accessible to the rich famous sponsors friends of sponsors and someone who knows someone. There will be thousands of spectators in the stadium tomorrow night who are not even football fans and have no idea about the game, I have spent hours and hours trying to find a ticket at a semi reasonable price and unless i mortgage my house there is no way i can afford to pay the money that is being asked. UEFA have to bring a stop to this circus and bring the competition back to the fans, without whose support throughout the competiition the final would never take place.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's not only UEFA who are taking supporters for a ride, the ticket prices in the Premier League are going up on a regular season on season basis, and although not all teams are putting up prices the overall trend is upwards.

  • Comment number 9.

    Football has changed a lot since I started watching it as a 4 year old boy. Stadiums are safer, facilities are better - at least in the main.

    But all of this has been at the expense of the average man. It's okay for me, supporting a once proud league club now in the conference - it's still a relatively cheap day out even if that's reflected in the standard of football on offer. But I have a number of mates who are genuine, match-attending fans of a couple of the big London clubs. They're normal, working class lads and I have no idea how they can afford to go on a regular basis - in fact one of them no longer can, and has given up a season ticket he has renewed for nearly 15 years.

    Still, as long as the money men are happy, eh?


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