According to Sky Sports, Arsenal and Chelsea will return as many as 6,000 of the 12,000 tickets allocated for the Europa League final after supporters from both clubs opted against making the difficult and expensive trip to Baku.
It’s reported that the Gunners will be represented by 4,000 fans who’ve bought tickets via the club with Chelsea taking half that number.
Just to reiterate, Baku’s Olympic Stadium, which is hosting the showpiece fixture on 29 May, has a capacity close to 68,000.
Given we have 45,000 season ticket holders, Arsenal rightly complained about the size of the initial ticket allocation. It’s since become very apparent that even if we’d been given more tickets, the logistics involved in getting to a country on the outer reaches of UEFA’s jurisdiction were going to be far more prohibitive for the average punter.
In justifying their initial allocation by pointing out exactly that, UEFA pretty much stuck two fingers up at us.
What is likely to prove more embarrassing for UEFA is the fact that a number of their sponsors, each with big allocations, are also reportedly sending tickets back as well. The Times (£) claims that the same travel problems facing supporters are hindering those with the option of freebie entry.
Apparently, all returned tickets will be put on sale to locals. We’ll be curious to see if the stadium is full for Europe’s second biggest football final. It’ll be a crying shame if Unai Emery’s and Maurizio Sarri’s men have to go head-to-head in front of swathes of empty seats but maybe that’s what it’ll take for UEFA to reassess the way they hand out these games.