Should UEFA impose a ticket price ceiling?
After yet another protest from Bayern fans on Wednesday, what will it take for UEFA to realise that ticket prices are an issue? First, it was at the Emirates where the fans boycotted the first five minutes of the match. The members of the Club Nr.12 were dismayed at the price of £74 to see their team in the group stage game, these were for the cheapest tickets. Conversely, in the return game tickets were just an affordable £22.
Do UEFA care?
It doesn’t appear so, as no one has really come out and addressed the situation. Combatting a problem first means acknowledging that it exists. Does this mean the UEFA hierarchy think that ticket prices are not extortionate?
The biggest impact is on the fans at the end of the day. Fans provide the atmosphere, for which there is no substitute. In stadia like the Allianz Arena, Old Trafford, San Siro and others, the atmosphere created by fans is like no other. Especially when the majority of Europe has been going through such a time of austerity over the past few years, ticket prices have steadily risen.
The biggest impact is undoubtedly felt by the fans. In addition to the ticket prices, fans have to pay for flights and accommodation, which upon the announcement of fixture dates and locations are confirmed, prices sky-rocket automatically. Money for fans does not grow on trees, so it may only a matter of time until fans stop making the journey.
Bayern fans threw fake money onto the Anderlecht pitch in protest to the €70 each fan paid (it was 30% subsidised by Bayern Munich).
Anderlecht’s fans paid a similar price, this is actually in breach of UEFA’s Safety and Security regulations. According to Article 19 clause 3, it reads:
Unless the associations or clubs concerned agree otherwise, the price of tickets for supporters of the visiting team must not exceed the price paid for tickets of a comparable category that are sold to supporters of the home team.
Maybe a review of prices for home and away fans should be done across all European games for this season. Fan experience is seldom a priority for clubs or welfare, especially from a financial perspective as all clubs see is that revenue is up, not what the cost is.
What is a possible solution?
UEFA have six official partners, which include the likes of Ford and Heineken. But is there anything stopping them from pursuing a booking agent or flight partners, who could put together packages for travelling fans. As ideal as this is, not one single airline flies all across Europe.
But an agreement between the airlines that cover Europe could make it much more enjoyable for fans and more affordable. For a fan that may travel for the group stages alone, it’s costing around £3,000 per season to follow their clubs across Europe. Does this matter to UEFA? Does it matter to clubs? In Germany to be fair, they are very wary of this.
Meanwhile in England, we are the country guiltiest of price extortion. If a ceiling was set, a reasonable price would be £30. As for travel now, that’ll be a much harder task to address.