History was made this week when four English clubs qualified for the finals of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, those clubs being Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea. This is the first time that all the final spots have been occupied by teams of the same league.
However, supporters of the four clubs have been left disappointed with the number of UEFA ticket allocations to each team. The fans that will be lucky enough to be going face troubles of their own in terms of travel and prices.
UEFA Ticket Allocations
Liverpool completed a historic comeback at Anfield on Tuesday evening. At 3-0 down against Barcelona, the Reds managed to score four at Anfield, securing their spot in the Champions League final for the second consecutive year. Tottenham also showed great spirit on Wednesday. The Lily Whites found themselves three goals down at half time in Amsterdam. A hat trick from Lucas Moura, however, sent Ajax crashing out, and Spurs to their first final in the competition.
The final itself takes place in the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on the first of June. The stadium holds a capacity of 68,000, but the two sides will only receive an allocation of 16,613 seats each. That totals to 33,226, meaning less than half of the ground’s seats will actually be given to the fans. The remaining tickets will go to the public, sponsors, delegates, national associations, broadcasters and UEFA itself.
Chelsea and Arsenal qualified for the final of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday. The Blues beat Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties whilst the latter more smoothly overcame Valencia. The two London clubs will meet at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan on 29th May, and will receive just 6,000 tickets each despite the stadium holding 68,700.
At first glance, travelling from England to Madrid doesn’t seem too bad. But prices of flights and rooms have shot up since the two sides competing in the final were confirmed. Plane prices are far more expensive than the regular price. Some fans have decided to look at flying to alternative destinations and to travel to Spain’s capital from there. As for rooms, usually cheap options have now rocketed up to more than £1,000 per night. The BBC found that the cheapest option for one night was to stay in a hostel in central Madrid, costing £320.
If you thought that was bad, you have to feel for the supporters heading to Baku. Londoners face a journey of over 2,400 miles to get to the Azerbaijani capital. The majority of direct flights between the two cities cost over £2,000. Some are looking at flying to nearby countries and continue their trip to Baku from there. A train journey from London would take four days, eleven changes and would pass through seven nations. It is expected that even driving would take 58 hours. Entering Azerbaijan would also require a visa.
What Do UEFA Have to Say?
With fans sharing their dismay, Europe’s governing body have spoken out about the controversy surrounding the Europa League: “Based on UEFA’s recent experience with UEFA Europa League finalists and the UEFA Super Cup in comparable venues, the number of finalists’ supporters requesting tickets for a UEFA Europa League final can vary greatly from club to club. Of course, it is impossible to predict in advance which clubs will reach the final while the venue has to be chosen around two years in advance.
“Taking into consideration the above and most importantly the geographical location and logistical capacity of airports in and around the host city, it was deemed that around 15,000 spectators would be able to travel from abroad, with Baku being the main hub.”
Chelsea and Arsenal fans have questioned UEFA’s judgement of hosting the match in Baku, considering the number of people local airports can handle. Istanbul and Seville were also in contention to host the game. The lucky few supporters heading to both games will face a tough task financially.
They will be forced to pay far more than a regular couple of days in the two areas. At the moment, it doesn’t look like UEFA ticket allocations or prices will change, with UEFA’s statement only backing that up.
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