Written by Media, Sport, TV

The Business of Football

I’m still coming down from an excpetional Wednesday night that saw Arsenal overcome a 1-0 defecit to win beat Barcelona, easily the best team in the world, 2-1.
As I sit there dreaming about how Arsenal might maintain that lead in the much tougher return fixture in the Nou Camp a fortnight from now, I’ve already started thinking about how I might get to the Wembley final of this year’s Champions’ League.
And then UEFA announced the prices for this year’s tickets.
The cheapest seats will be £150, with other tiers offered being £225 and £300 a ticket. In total 11,000 tickets will be offered in a public ballot.
A further 50,000 tickets are for the two finalists and will be shared by those clubs. They’ll each have a limited number of £80 tickets – which I imagine will be high behind the goals at Wembley in the nose-bleed seats.
Of course 25,000 tickets are held for corporate sales and the UEFA family (i.e. sponsors and hangers-on).
But £150!
And did I mention that the “administration fee” is £26? I can only assume that the tickets are laced with gold and an armed guard will personally deliver my ticket. Because card merchants seemingly only charge that much to Ryanair.
Of course UEFA knows that fans will pay those ridiculous prices. Football support isn’t a rational activity. At least I can see if Arsenal get past Barcelona before I have to enter the ballot (which probably has quite long odds). Note that as I’m not a season ticket holder, I would have zero chance of getting a club ticket.
Yes – even though that’s an outrageous inflation-busting price in these recessionary times – I still would at least think about it. Because UEFA knows, that for fans, this is a once in a lifetime experience.
Still, at least UEFA and FIFA have been knocked back in Europe with their attempts to extract even more cash out of us to see their competitions. The general court of the EU has determined that Britain and Belgium are quite within their rights to include the entire European Championships and World Cup finals tournaments on their protected lists.
UEFA and FIFA would have preferred limiting it to just the games involving those countries, and perhaps the semi-finals and finals. They’d happily sell the rights at a premium to broadcasters like Sky or ESPN and force viewers to pay to see – say – Italy v Spain, rather than free-to-air broadcasters like ITV and the BBC.