Fancy going to the Champions League final? That’ll be £300, please..
|Just as a side-note: it had to be lions, didn’t it?|
“In everything that we do, football must always be the first and most important element that we take into consideration. Football is a game before being a product, a sport before being a market, a show before being a business.” – UEFA’s first of ‘eleven values’, which are listed on their official website.
It was announced yesterday that, in order to be at Wembley for the Champions League final on 28th May, you will need to pay around £150. Yes, that’s one-hundred-and-fifty pounds for what is essentially a couple of hours of entertainment. The general public could be forced to pay up to £300 to go and see the crowning of the eventual European champions. Fans of the two finalists will only have to pay £80 each, and both finalists will be allocated 50,000 tickets. But that is still eighty pounds per-person. And that’s forgetting about the £26 booking fee, or “administration fee” as UEFA have decided to call it.
The international governing body, FIFA, have come in for a lot of critiscm recently regarding the way in which they run the game but it is UEFA, this time, who are concentrating on revenue rather than what they should be focusing on. It is quite clear that the governing bodies of football are not thinking about the fans. They are barely even thinking about the sport. The beautiful game that we all love to watch is being tainted by the very people who control it.
The UEFA director of competitions, Giorgio Marchetti, was quick to defend the high prices. He was quoted in The Guardian as saying “when you compare it to other events, we don’t think that the Champions League final is overpriced. We do not want to squeeze every single penny out of the market”.
That last sentence really riles me, and I’m sure it annoyed every football fan across the country and probably across the continent. By setting such obscene prices, squeezing ever single penny out of the “market” is exactly what UEFA are doing. Ticket prices are high enough in this country (paying over £50 to go and see the club your support and love is simply unacceptable) but this is a new level of obscenity. This is taking advantage of fans who, let’s be honest, will be so desperate to get to see this final live that they will, inevitably, pay £300 to get inside Wembley.
That price, though, isn’t the end of it. UEFA justified the £26 booking fee (or £36 for those outside of Europe) by saying that there were “costs involved”. What are these “costs”? Printing? Laminating? A holding fee? Postage? Unless the tickets are gold-plated and have a holographic image of Michel Platini doing a little dance, I can’t see how UEFA can defend this price. How can anyone possibly justify such an obscene sum of money for what is, essentially, printing costs and putting a thin piece of material in an envelope?
The news of ticket prices did come on a particularly bad day for football and its leaders as FIFA attempted to make English football fans pay to watch the World Cup, while UEFA wanted the European Championships to become pay-per-view. Thankfully, the European Court ruled against them, but this is yet another example of the powerful rulers at the top of the footballing ladder taking advantage of the little people down at the bottom. Fans are exploited in every way possible and this will be shown when 11,000 Champions League final tickets go on sale in the coming weeks and, undoubtedly, 11,000 tickets will be sold. The section of football fans who are lucky enough to have that sort of money, and be able to spend it on such things as a football match, will, of course, snap up these tickets and will be singing “Que Sera, Sera” in no time, and I don’t begrudge them for that.
What I do have a problem with, though, is the fact that UEFA are actually defending this. Marchetti explained that, presumably because Michel Platini bemoaned the lack of children at last season’s final in Madrid, “some tickets from children [were put] at a discounted price”. Marchetti stated that there was a discount of “50% for the child”. While this may be technically true, the fact of the matter is that, for a child to go the match with an adult (at a “discount” price), it would still cost £338.
Of course, UEFA will defend this pricing by saying that they will put more money back into the game. I, personally, cannot see this happening. Members of UEFA will line their own pockets with the money that will be made from the selling of tickets, although I would suspect that the owners of Wembley will receive a proportion of the money eventually made, which will help with some of the debts that are yet to be fully paid off.
Quite simply, this justification isn’t good enough. Many football fans are becoming disillusioned with the sport and it is no surprise given the way that the governing bodies rule. UEFA should be setting an example to European clubs who already out-price many loyal fans. Marchetti suggesting that the ticket prices for the final are OK because these are the prices that are being charged nowadays doesn’t sit well with me and many other fans as those sums are overpriced in the first place.
Everyone knows that football is a business nowadays. Football isn’t “a sport before being a market, a show before being a business.” The people at the top of the game, in setting these record-high prices for the final, are squeezing every single penny out of said market. The sad fact of the matter is that football fans can’t do anything (or, rather, won’t). The 2011 Champions League final will be a sell-out and UEFA will label it a success. The most annoying part of all of this is not the prices, not even the poor attempts at justifying the prices, but the fact that fans can’t do anything about it.
Just as an FYI, tickets for this weekend’s League One encounter between Charlton Athletic and Exeter City are being priced at £5.