Tickets for the Europa League final are already being traded at many times face value on Ebay and also embarrassingly by Chelsea’s ‘Official Ticket Partner’ Viagogo. The reason for this is hardly surprising, but I’ll come back to that later.
The game is to be staged at Amsterdam’s ArenA, which has a reduced capacity of some 48,000, and although most fans would expect each of the final’s protagonists to receive 20,000 or so tickets, the truth is somewhat awry from that. It was met with disappointment, but hardly surprise when Uefa announced that the allocation would be a paltry 9,800 to each club, including those to be given internally to club officials. This means that substantially less than half of the the people attending the game will have purchased tickets from one of the clubs’ allocation, and less than half of Chelsea’s season ticket-holders will have access to them. So, where are the other tickets going to?
Uefa are saying that aside from 18,000 put on ‘general sale’, these have been allocated to sponsors, official partners, and what is quaintly termed as the “Uefa football family.” This raises two questions. Firstly, why the option of placing so many tickets on general sale, rather than allocating many more to the clubs? It’s a curious decision that may have led to the situation described below. Secondly, who are the members of “Uefa’s football family?” Well you may ask. These are doubtless the national and local associations and other such bodies that are considered to be ‘worthy’; certainly more worthy than the humble fans that pay to follow their clubs through thin, and often thinner.
It’s difficult not to be disappointed to hear such things, and conversely equally easy not to be surprised. Fans, the ultimate consumers of the football are consistently treated with such disdain.
So now let’s return to the tickets that are being hawked around the internet for vastly inflated prices. I guess that there’re only two possible routes that these could have travelled to reach these selling forums. Either, they’re from the clubs’ allocations – perhaps not likely given the paltry amount available there, or from those not duly allocated – see above. Now call me cynical, but pose yourself this question, are there some sponsors, official partners or members of ‘Uefa’s Football Family’ that didn’t quite fancy a trip to Amsterdam , and preferred the option of trousering a few hundred euros instead? Well, the odds are that it’s either that, or those sold on general sale. Either way, for the fans unable to get tickets without paying the scandalous prices demanded on the internet and similar, it has to be frustrating.
It’s of course true that, fans being fans, many of the tickets on the internet will inevitably be snapped up and come the final many more Chelsea and Benfica fans will be present than the less than 20,000 that Uefa thought appropriate. It’s sad to say though that they will have had to have shelled out an awful lot more than face value of the tickets for the privilege. Oh, by the way, you may be wondering why the capacity at the stadium is being reduced for the match. Now, I have to confess that I can’t find any official confirmation – or denial for that matter - of this, but I understand that it’s to accommodate the hoarding s, banners, etc, promoting Uefa and its work. The irony would be funny if it wasn’t so annoying. Call me cynical – again – if you like, but to my mind, that’s the sought of financial fair play that I’d prefer Platini to sort out.