Uefa risk own goal with ticket prices
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.