May saw two of footballs biggest tournaments come to a dramatic close, however the real losers weren’t Tottenham and Arsenal, it was the fans.
Sports news has been awash with commentary on the staggeringly poorly managed Europa League and Champions League finals. The former being held in one of the hardest to reach destinations in Europe – Baku, Azerbaijan, and the latter in Madrid.
However, the destination was just the beginning of fans’ problems, shortly after the final contenders were confirmed UEFA announced respective ticket allowances, a mere 33,226 for both Liverpool and Tottenham fans in Madrid, and a pitiful 12,000 for Chelsea and Arsenal fans in Baku – despite both stadiums having capacity for over 68,000 fans.
UEFA have defended their decision by stating that it was impossible to predict in advance which clubs would reach the final, meanwhile the venue has to be decided two years in advance, in other words it was just unfortunate both finals were UK based teams.
However, the fans aren’t buying it, and they shouldn’t. This is just one in a long line of instances that demonstrate UEFA and to a concerning degree football clubs, are in the pocket of corporate sponsors, all at the expense of fans’ participation in the sport.
Since launching earlier this year the UK Fans Trust has received countless complaints from football fans on the game becoming increasingly hard to enjoy. For many it’s an issue of affordability and availability.
Whilst it used to be easy to access tickets at prices that the majority could afford, in 2019 the landscape is looking very different. Season ticket holds of 30 years are finding they have to cancel their ticket due to inflating prices, only to find that even securing one off match tickets is nigh on impossible, often their only option is then to turn to resell sites.
One of our members wrote in noting; ‘I find it very hard to get tickets now for Liverpool. Even though they have increased their capacity, most of the tickets go to corporate. All the clubs are going to lose grass root supporters you get a lot of people just going so they say they have been’
Another of our members complained, ‘I go to football games on a regular basis. Travel from London to Liverpool to do so. I want to be able to attend away games. Impossible. Unless you are a season ticket holder tickets are so hard to come by.’
In a feverish bid to increase revenues and an increasingly commercialised mind set amongst club owners and directors, grassroots rans are being edged out, a mistake given they are the lifeblood of the fame.
The problem is then being compounded by UEFA who are happy to turn a blind eye to a bidder’s lack of infrastructure, distance or ability to host a cup final if the price is right and it pleases shareholders.
The UK Fans Trust hopes to put a limelight on the growing issues within football’s ticketing sector, by amplifying fans concerns and putting pressure on primary ticket sellers, clubs and UEFA to remember who the game is played for. Fans should have equal access to tickets, and it shouldn’t be well-connected insiders or the wealthy who get to enjoy the game.
For any further information on the UFT or to send in your experiences of the football ticketing industry email firstname.lastname@example.org