Chelsea fans get the blues over Champions League ticket prices.
"if fans cannot afford these tickets, why is Chelsea charging such astronomical prices?"
March 26th, 2012
A win would see Chelsea line up their biggest game at Stamford Bridge for three years: but many fans will not be there to see the Champions League quarter final against Benfica.
“I can’t justify £65.50 for match ticket,” said one West Lower season ticket holder; a fan of 30 years standing. “I mean £65.50 – for a game!”
That sentiment was echoed by others: all of them loyal season ticket holders.
A holder of an £880 Shed Upper season ticket told me he couldn’t afford the £60.50 his seat would cost on Wednesday week.
And another man – a financially secure individual with a £1,250 West Upper season ticket – is baulking at the £83.50 asking price.
So if fans cannot afford these tickets, why is Chelsea charging such astronomical prices? Because they can.
Chelsea fans’ proud boast that they are the last British team in Europe comes at a cost: next week’s game against Benfica is the only show in town for a game-hungry corporate market.
And while Chelsea set those prices long before it was clear Arsenal, United and City would be out: their absence won’t hurt Chelsea’s hopes of a sell-out.
Advocates of the free market will cite supply and demand: saying those who can’t pay can watch on TV. But we’ve been here before.
Remember the 2005 semi at home to Liverpool? A bodged allocation of tickets saw an almost entirely disengaged Stamford Bridge, crammed with tourists and touted corporates, sit silent through a painful 0-0 draw.
The team needed a lift the corporates and their clients couldn’t give. Chelsea dropped their home advantage – to be dumped out at Anfield a week later.
Should they qualify for next season’s Champions League (unlikely at this stage), there will be a welcome cut in the cost of group games. But tickets for the knock-out stages have been merely frozen.
Stamford Bridge is by no means the only place where fans are being priced out: for Barcelona’s meeting with AC Milan, tickets start at €83. But holders of a complete season ticket for the Camp Nou can, unlike at Chelsea, buy their seat for Champions League games at a rate far below the headline selling price.
Meanwhile, Benfica are selling tickets for the Lisbon leg for €30; and tickets to Bayern Munich’s game against Marseille start at €35.
Benfica and Bayern can guarantee an atmosphere both rousing and hostile: because the people in the cheap seats will clap their hands. But at Stamford Bridge, we may be reliant upon those with an £83.50 ticket to rattle their jewellery.
What do you think of the sky high ticket prices? Let us know in the comments below.
Words by Dan Levene, read the rest of his Chelsea blog on Footballscores.com