Supporters of UK football outfits Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea have voiced their anger at paltry ticket allocations and travel difficulties following their team’s making it to the finals of the UEFA’s Champions (Tottenham vs. Liverpool) and Europa (Arsenal vs. Chelsea) finals in coming weeks.
The Europa League final has fans particularly upset, given that it takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan – some 2,468 miles from London – and each team was only allotted 6,000 tickets in a stadium that holds nearly 70,000 fans. Things are slightly better for the Champions League sides – they face off in Madrid, and the teams have been allotted tickets to almost half (33,226 of 68,000) of the seats at the home of Athletico Madrid.
Supporters of Liverpool and Tottenham issued a join statement airing their complaints about the “measly allocation from UEFA,” calling for more transparency in the allocation process and some measure of protection against price gouging by hotel and airline businesses serving those looking to book travel for the finals.
“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’s Supporters Trust endorsed the statement, as its members are faced with even more difficult travel issues, plus the need to secure a visa to attend the contest even if they can afford it. “We are working with [Tottenham and Liverpool fan groups] 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 response was to wash its hands of the travel and pricing issues that fans face. Locations for these events is determined far in advance rather than based on the finalists. In Europa League play, the final has only pitted two teams from the same country three times since 2000, and there has never been a final pitting two English sides against one another. The Champions League final has seen teams from the same country face off in the final five times since 2000, including the 2008 matchup between Manchester United and Chelsea, which took place in Moscow.
Photo: Chelsea takes on Dynamo Kyiv in Europa League play earlier this year. Posted by user Visem to Wikimedia Commons