LONDON: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp branded UEFA “irresponsible” on Friday (May 10) as fans expressed their disgust overeye-watering price hikesafter four Premier League clubs qualified for the Champions League and Europa League finals.
Tottenham and Liverpool will meet in the Champions League final in Madrid on June 1, while supporters of London clubs Arsenal and Chelsea face a 9,000km (5,600-mile) round-trip for their Europa League final in the Azerbaijani capital Baku on May 29.
Klopp, whose side lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Kiev last season, called on European governing body UEFA to show more consideration to travelling fans when choosing host cities for finals.
“These guys who make the decisions, I don’t know what they have for breakfast really when they do it,” said Klopp.
“Baku, I have no clue how to go there, if there is any regular flight at all? These decisions must be much more sensible, much more reasonable. It looks irresponsible. I don’t know how they do it.”
Arsenal and Chelsea fans are further outraged that the clubs have been allocated just 6,000 tickets each for the 68,700-capacity Olympic Stadium.
In March, UEFA put 37,500 tickets for the Europa League final on general sale to supporters.
UEFA said in a statement to AFP that the number of fans requesting tickets for Europa League finals varied greatly from club to club and the amount given for the 2019 final was also based on logistics in Baku.
“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,” it said.
“Offering more tickets to fans of the participating teams, without any guarantee that they would be able to arrange suitable travel to reach Baku, was therefore not a responsible option.”
There are currently no scheduled direct flights between London and Baku for the week of the final.
“Really terrible ticketing and travel arrangements for Arsenal fans for the Europa league final,” the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust said in a statement.
“AST meeting with the other supporter trusts also in European finals on Tuesday to discuss how more pressure can be brought to bear on UEFA for fairer treatment for fans.”
Arsenal estimate that return travel will cost more than £1,000 (US$1,300) per person.
PRICE HIKES IN MADRID
Liverpool and Tottenham fans in theory have a much easier trip to the Spanish capital but have seen prices for flights and hotels sky rocket since both sides produced remarkable semi-final comebacks this week to defeat Barcelona and Ajax.
“Yesterday I was calling some hotels to try and book some rooms because I don’t know if my family and some people from Argentina are going to be there,” said Spurs’ Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino.
“I wanted to book and it was so difficult and the prices are so crazy. I am very surprised but it is normal that people take advantage of this type of opportunity.”
A joint statement issued by the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust and Liverpool’s Spirit of Shankly fans’ group called for a cap on ticket pricing, transparency over allocation and consumer protection measures to be introduced to stop prices being forced up.
“Our joy at reaching the final is tempered by the prices of travel, accommodation and tickets, and by the allocation of tickets,” it said.
“Prices of flights to Madrid and surrounding towns have rocketed by up to 840 percent.
“Hotel rooms are over £1,000 a night and we are hearing stories of room bookings being cancelled and resold at vastly inflated rates.
“Ticket prices of in excess of £500 are also extortionate. And there needs to be transparency from UEFA and our clubs in how tickets are priced and allocated.”
Liverpool and Spurs fans have been allocated 16,600 tickets each for the 68,000-capacity Wanda Metropolitano stadium.
Tottenham announced on Friday that they will screen the match at the club’s new 62,000-capacity stadium.