Klopp brands UEFA ‘irresponsible’ as fans count cost of Euro glory
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 9,000-km (5,600-mile) round-trip for their Europa League final in Azerbaijani capital Baku on May 29.
Klopp, whose side lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Kiev last season, called on 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 on Friday.
“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, European governing body UEFA put 37,500 tickets for the Europa League final on general sale to supporters.
“It is inevitable that with an allocation of just 6,000 tickets for the final, there will be thousands of fans who have supported the club for years and been part of our Europa League journey this season who will be unable to attend this match,” said Arsenal in a statement.
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 estimates that return travel will cost more than £1,000 ($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 skyrocket since both sides produced remarkable semi-final comebacks this week to defeat Barcelona and Ajax.
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 per cent.
“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.
Most of the income from the highly lucrative Champions League comes from television rights deals sold across the continent and the rest of the world.
And fans believe their part in making the spectacle so highly sought-after deserves to be rewarded.
“For many fans, this final is not a one-off event. It is the culmination of a journey that has seen fans spending thousands of pounds travelling to six cities in each club’s campaign, bringing the spectacle and atmosphere that is a key part of the product so prized by television,” added the joint statement by Liverpool and Tottenham supporters.
“It is time to stop cashing in on fan loyalty.”