UEFA's rise in ticket prices raises many questions
Just over three years ago, Michel Platini popped in to address the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg.
As President of UEFA, Platini made an impassioned speech that football's ‘fundamental social and cultural values were coming under pressure from various negative influences.’
The Frenchmen went onto add that an "explosion of sectoral and corporate interests are designed to benefit one element - particularly if it is powerful and rich, rather than the masses.”
With barely a dry eye in the house, Platini concluded, “It is now becoming more important to make a profit than to win trophies."
Today, Platini’s organisation has announced that the cheapest tickets on open sale for this season’s Champions League final at Wembley will be £176.
The fee has been condemned across the continent as the 15% increase on prices from last years final are in no way representative of the economic living situation of the average fan.
The pricing has almost doubled since 2009, and any booking is subject to a £26 admin fee for ‘costs involved’ - or a stamp as it used to be known.
UEFA’s media henchmen sent up Director of Competitions, Giorgio Marchetti up to declare "We do not want to squeeze every single penny out of the market.” The UEFA tie also pointed out that the pricing was indeed comparative to similar events, such as last summers FIFA World Cup Final.
The two participating clubs will receive 50,000 tickets between them for the Wembley showpiece, priced at a not unaskable £80, with another 11,000 tickets going on general sale at £300, £225 and £150 - plus the £26 stamp.
Approximately 20,000 places will be reserved for various corporate interests and commercial colleagues. Details of those price schemes, if any, have yet to be released.
The numbers don’t make favourable reading for UEFA, and nor should they. The bare essentials of this pricing orientation is to maximise to earning potential of an event which is the very antithesis the organisation apparently aspire against.
If you care to peruse the UEFA or FIFA websites, the place is packed with contradiction. The glowing UEFA endorsed development reports depict imagery of war torn or disadvantage children seeking solace with a football. Look into the political rhetoric and there is a grandiose utopian perception of mutuality and independence shared in the beautiful game. Look into the ticket pricing and behind the avatar logos of Adidas, Coca-Cola, Budweiser and others, there is nothing but elitism and capital gains. The metaphorical and actual intentions do not add up.
Without adding to the speculation, the Panorama questions have still yet to be feasibly answered. Those queries about internal contracts and holding accounts have been threatened with lawsuits. None have ever materialised.
How can UEFA think that charging £176 for a single match ticket to a football match is, in the words of Giorgio Marchetti, “a fair level”? Quite easily, to be honest. The event will be a sell-out, and those tickets which will be later regurgitated for much higher prices will all be snapped up regardless of what extortionate price they are set at.
That’s because football sells, and nobody sells it, or exploits it, like the games governing bodies, despite what the politically friendly-faced former golden boy come UEFA preacher may try to say to the contrary.
The prices charged for a single ticket regardless of the worldwide kudos of that game is simply extortion and draws nobody to the game other than those that can out bid the rest.
Such unequal economic playing fields have been oft derided by Platini to such levels that financial fair play rules are on there way in at his behest.
Will any monopolies body be invited in to review the ticket pricing system of registered UEFA and FIFA events? Maybe not.
Platini speaks frequently about his discomfort at the imbalance of European football, yet confesses little about how his organization have helped to create it. Yet, an overseas investor picking a club off the shelf is essentially harmless when compared to the game’s policing force charging football fans ridiculous prices to attend a football match.
The pricing of these tickets should not be the issue, moreover it is the integrity of the continents governing force which should be open to further investigation.
Michel Platini was born to a modest family in Joeuf, a small town in northern France. Could his father have afforded to take the future president of UEFA to a Champions League final, and if he couldn’t, what would he have said about a 15% incremental on the year before?
There are many questions about UEFA’s finances which will always remain unanswered, least of all how much will their corporate bar tab increase by this year?