European Cup finals are special. Everyone knows just where they were and how they felt. We remember them by the name of the city where they were played and a standout that happened. Istanbul and the comeback. Paris and Barney’s chip. Rome and Bruce’s spaghetti legs.
Kiev and exploitation.
Not quite the same, is it? It is hard to imagine that the game on 26 May won’t be the most expensive club competition final ever. And what is most evident, with just two weeks to go, is supporter loyalty, and desperation, is being exploited to the max.
Take UEFA’s prices. With their huge wealth, amassed from TV rights and sponsorship deals, how can they justify charging fans up to £394 per ticket? Have UEFA taken time to explain? Have they even noticed how extreme this is?
Then there’s the allocation. It’s expected and taken for granted that fans will turn up during the run to the final – wouldn’t look good on TV if they didn’t – yet many, from both clubs, who have watched their side in every home game en route to Kiev will miss out. Just 16,600 tickets per club in a 70,000-seat stadium. How can UEFA justify this? Will they take time to explain?
Kiev, the guides say, is a beautiful city. It may well be, but aside from the kindness of individuals wanting to help fans, what we have seen is a brazen rip-off with pre-booked hotels cancelled and made available again for twice the price. The mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, wrote to welcome Liverpool fans to his city. Some welcome. Spirit of Shankly have written back asking for action to be taken.
UEFA’s intention to take football’s showcase competition around Europe may be noble and honest. But the reality is very different. Those in charge will have had transport and accommodation pre-booked well in advance while fans with shallower pockets and much less time have been left scrambling.
This final is being played in a country with limited access options, leading to sky-high prices. Supporters are told not to book travel without a match ticket. Some by the time they know if they’ve been successful, in LFC’s yet-to-be-completed sale, will struggle to find a possible, never mind affordable, route to Kiev.
The expectation that chartered day trips will fill the void hasn’t materialised. There are fewer options than in previous years and ever escalating prices will put those out of reach for ordinary fans. Just this morning Liverpool FC’s own travel partner Thomas Cook have increased the price of a day trip overnight. How can they justify that?
Where does this leave us, the supporters? To do what we do best: innovate and / or go to extremes resulting in lengthy travel routes and credit-card overload. And don’t forget the deadline for season-ticket renewal is 22 May, four days before the final.
Supporters are continually pushed out or priced out, with only supporters ourselves trying to force change.
SOS call on those responsible to see the bigger picture. The famed support, praised all over the press and social media after the Manchester City and Roma ties, need help. We have asked LFC to consider changing the date for season-ticket renewals, and we ask that the club, their partners and UEFA reach out to help supporters.