Fan groups come together to call for European changes

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After the disaster that was Baku in May, not just on the pitch from an Arsenal point of view, fan groups representing the four European finalists last season have come together to issue a statement regarding how these games are managed by UEFA.

The Gunners had to do without Henrikh Mkhitaryan due to his nationality, while fans were hugely inconvenienced by the location which was difficult and very expensive to get to.

The Arsenal Supporters Trust, along with Chelsea Supporters Trust, Spirit of Shankly and Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust issued a statement this morning, ahead of this season’s Champions League and Europa League draws.

It reads as follows.

Reaching a UEFA Champions League or Europa League final should be a wonderful experience for a club’s supporters. Instead, they can face a struggle just to attend the match. ​Problems range from inadequate numbers of tickets being awarded to the finalists through to all-but-impossible travel arrangements. Too often fans who had supported their clubs in every round up to the final were left out of pocket or not able to attend the final at all.

We have drawn up a six-point action plan to improve the supporter experience. It has been referred to the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) and Football Supporters Europe (FSE). We now call on UEFA to engage in meaningful dialogue with supporters and address these points.

1. Allocation

80% of tickets should be made available to the two competing finalists, with the remaining 20% for sponsors, the football family, key stakeholders and a small general sale.

2. Capacity

Only stadiums with large capacities should be selected to ensure maximum ticket availability. We suggest 60,000 or greater for the Europa League final; 75,000 for the Champions League final.

3. Affordability

Ticket pricing for the final has to be fair and affordable. There should be a stretch pricing policy allowing choice for fans.

4. Accessibility

The final venue must have the highest standards for accessibility for people with disabilities, including travel access to the stadium; sufficient food, drink and washroom facilities; and have not been subject to a UEFA charge for the treatment of fans for at least 24 months prior to the final.

5. Infrastructure

The location of the final venue should be a city with excellent transport links, including the capacity to deal with additional charter flights, and ideally good rail links to nearby cities and airports; bed-space capacity to deal with the large number of visitors.

6. Equality

The host country must abide by a human-rights and equality policy that ensures no discrimination or denial of right of entry is applied to any player or supporter travelling to the final.

Tomorrow’s much-hyped draw will involve everybody from the football family except the very people without whom there would be no European football – its supporters. We call upon UEFA to strengthen its dialogue with fans and request that they start by engaging with groups such as ourselves to discuss the proposals to improve arrangements for fans at the final stages of the Champions and Europa Leagues.

Arsenal Supporters Trust
Chelsea Supporters Trust
Spirit of Shankly, Liverpool Supporters Union
Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust

In a week when Bury have gone to the wall, and Bolton look set to follow, it’s worth remembering that despite rivalries, fans are much more powerful if they can set aside differences and speak with one voice about the issues which affect football as a whole.

Whether UEFA listen remains to be seen. You can’t help but be cynical, but it’s important to speak out because silence makes us complicit in the decisions they take and let’s them get away with even more.

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C.B.
C.B.

All sensible stuff, hope it is all taken up.

C.B.
C.B.

Especially the last one – if we had Mkhi playing for us the scores in the final would have been reversed.

So unfair…

Dom47
Dom47

Not really, it was a shame and we were a bit weaker but it’s not like he has been at the top of his form for us since he joined, or he is a world beater.

sami
sami

How do you know? sorry but its like Chelsea not having Giroud that night. Plus its ok because its one player but what if it was French people? thats half both teams, what then? it was a disgrace!

gus
gus

yep very weak

A Different George
A Different George

I agree the last point is probably the most important– but completely apart fromhether or not it would have made any difference in the outcome. We should have the ability to choose who we wish, and Mkhitaryan should have the absolute right, to play football regardless of his nationality.

Teakster
Teakster

Even just being able to play with our Mkhi for the evening would have been nice…*ahem*

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia
Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Man U are able to send Alexis on loan despite his very big salary. Emery did not bring Ozil to Anfield. Why isn’t it possible to send him or Mikhi on loan somewhere in Europe ?

James
James

United are paying him about £250k a week to NOT play for them, Inter aren’t paying all his wages. We would rather have Ozil than pay him to be somewhere else

thankyou22
thankyou22

Especially agree with the first point – even though it personally affects me since I live in Germany and can’t attend Arsenal games in the UK due to visa issues, etc,. But the finals should have 80% allocation to the fan groups – not sponsors!

P.S. – Visa issues due to Indian nationality (tourist visa only valid for 6 months and costs approx 170 euros)

PeteyB
PeteyB

Normally on tourist visa you can travel to other countries within EU/shengen area but not UK. So you can’t come to watch the Arsenal, but you could potentially get to most of the away options in Europa League.

thankyou22
thankyou22

I work in Germany but my residence permit is valid only for the Schengen region. I really hope Arsenal come to play in Germany or any of the neighbouring countries. Would be a dream of mine since 2002 come true.

P.S – The actual dream is watching Arsenal vs United at the Emirates. Sadly, the fixture doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as it did in 2006/07 when I dreamt of it.

thankyou22
thankyou22

*2006 instead of 2002

Dave M
Dave M

I’m hoping for the same thing…. Fingers crossed for Wolfsburg…

Goonerrific
Goonerrific

The fact these things even have to be asked for is in itself ludicrous.

Dave M
Dave M

Trump is president and Boris in PM; Ludicrosity has been redefined. A corrupt body like UEFA not giving a flying fuk about fans doesn’t come across as entirely ludicrous to me. Fuked, yes. But sadly it just the norm for modern football standards. Money drives the game and fans still watch no matter how shittily they get treated. Outcome of that is the decision makers couldn’t give-a-fuk about fans because they can do anything and we still watch…

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

You spelt fuck/fucked wrong

Dave M
Dave M

I try not to swear properly

Deo
Deo

Hard to disagree with any of that. More power to fans!

George
George

Don’t think the suggested stadium capacities are feasible or necessary, but the rest seems good. Common sense even!

Crash Fistfight
Crash Fistfight

I agree. It restricts the number of stadia that can host the CL final to a (very) select few:

1. Nou Camp
2. Wembley
3. Signal Iduna (Dortmund)
4. Bernabeu
5. Luzhniki
6. Stade de France
7. San Siro
8. Attaturk
9. Athens Olympic Stadium
10. Allianz Arena

(Old Trafford technically has capacity just under 75,000)

Basically, only the biggest teams (or national associations) would get the opportunity to make even more money, and there’s no potential to play in new places.

Goonerink

True, however if they went down the list it would take a decade for a repeat venue, and give teams a ten year gap to increase their stadium capacity.

Personally feel it should be held at the previous winners ground (unless it is a participating team like Madrid 3 years running)
Takes the corruption away instantly as it takes away choice.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

Bearing in mind it is those teams / cities in the final almost every time doesn’t seem like such a terrible idea

myrtle
myrtle

We won the league at old trafford
It can suck a d1ck!

Goonertom
Goonertom

Any F1 fans might find some similarities between the way football governance runs and the way Ecclestone took control by ‘divide and conquer’, knowing that the teams were too pre-occupied fighting between themselves for their own short term benefits, rather than coming together for the long term well-being of the sport. I cant help feel like there’s some similarities to football. It seems sometimes FIFA/UEFA/FA or even Club boards take advantage of the divide between fans to do as they please, usually to the detriment of the fans. Its good to see for fan groups put their tribalism to one side and stand together against the real enemy.

Dave M
Dave M

I 100% agree. It might be the sort of thing that start to evoke real change in football. We need it more. Perhaps there is even the possibility in the future of organsing a fans’ union (for lack of a better word). A body made up of supporter groups of constituent teams, with represenatives from each supporter group voting on fans based policies to push for change. Much easier way to organise group actions to take more aggressive stand against poor policy in football. They won’t listen to us complain as individuals, but an organised group may be a really effective means for change and equal voting rights among constituent supporter groups would prevent it being overrun by the big team’s supporters.

Crash Fistfight
Crash Fistfight

The new owners aren’t any better. 22 races next year, going to random places that pay the most money, plus they’ve removed the German GP from the calendar (Hockenheim was ruined years ago, to be fair). Not that it’s even worth watching any more.

Tony Adams Nose
Tony Adams Nose

They use our rivalry against us and we let them. I was in the away end at Lille once watching Arsenal in Europa. Everyone around me knew I was an Arsenal fan as we were standing and I could not help lurching forward with every attack we had. Then Henry scored. I started getting taps on the shoulder and thought to myself, here we go but the home supporters we just letting me know how proud they were he was French! It was very refreshing.
The point I’m making is we are all fans first and all for different reasons.
The people who run football are politicians at the highest level. We still have Qatar to deal with, the hangover from Blatter and his cronies who were only exposed due to the United States IRS investigating potential tax fraud by an American on the committee! Same way they got Al Capone so draw your conclusion there!
The two finals should go some way to help the financial difficulties with grass roots football in undeveloped countries, clubs that are going to the wall due to bad ownership in a way of setting up a fan base to take over and run the club, women’s football and fan safety. All the gate money after expenses for just two games in Europe every year should be given to these types of causes and made public, just two! There should also be an auction among the invited dignitaries so they can also contribute. What a concept? Flying pigs eh?

Keeping it Monreal
Keeping it Monreal

Fully agree with this much needed statement. I’m not expecting changes any time soon as sponsorship deals are signed years in advance with ticket allocations for sponsors agreed in the contract for instance. But it’s about time this was challenged and hopefully in years to come there will be positive changes

Andy
Andy

Nice idea. But they’re pissing into the wind.

Mpls
Mpls

Agree, but it took a lot of pissing into the wind to upend Blatter, which did finally happen. Mind you, nobody thinks that org is ‘clean’ now, but it’s at least not as obviously brazen. Gotta start somewhere.

Thesoulofpdavis
Thesoulofpdavis

The governing bodies of football don’t really care and I’m yet to see any evidence that would show they do. Expect more Baku situations and daft allocation numbers. Hell, the world cup is still in Qatar and hasn’t been moved even though there are hundreds of reasons not to hold it there. FIFA and UEFA, both corrupt and both do not give a damn.

WengersNoseHair
WengersNoseHair

I’m guessing most of the money the CL an EL generate come from television and sponsorship, so would UEFA really care about any of those points? I was going to say only a boycott would work, but that’s travelling fans, and most people would still watch the matches on TV, so what’s the chance of anything changing.

Win,lose or draw Emery remains the wrong choice
Win,lose or draw Emery remains the wrong choice

Impressive….very impressive

Glide lightly
Glide lightly

Real change will only happen when we the fans stop handing over our cash and don’t enter the stadium. When the wold sees an empty ground at a major final the shock wave will create change fast. Until then we continue to be treated as we are.

Ted E.
Ted E.

I’m expecting a down vote party on this comment, but maybe we need to deepen the discussion. I find this a little troubling, both from a financial and an ethical point of view:
– The European Club Finals are huge moneymakers for UEFA, but not generally the city where they are being held. Stadium and tourist proceeds (hotel and consumption, but not travel) are really the only benefits. If 80% of the tickets are tagged as “affordable”, who would want to hold this event?
– On the ethical side, with only a “small general sale”, the local population would not be able to participate, again no benefit to the city.
– As others have pointed out, with high minimums in stadium size and infrastructure demands, our pool of willing stadiums would be even smaller.

Taken together, I feel others would call this a 1st world (club) problem. This does not mean I don’t feel everyone’s pain with Baku, I also googled flights in disgust. However, there are many soccer fans that support teams with zero chance at seeing a European final. Does that mean they should never get to see a live final?

Dave Cee
Dave Cee

I.ll flip your arguement..say for example an Icelandic side reached the CL final, should there fans be priced out of it or not allocated sufficient tickets or made to jump through hoops to get to the farthest possible destination in Europe? It would be a real one off occasion for them I would expect, why should football fans in Baku be expecting to take a large slice of the ticket share? Cities host these events for the prestige and business, not for their residents to attend the game.
Most sensibly several stadia should be put on alert at the season start that they may host a final. After the QFs or even Semi finals a decision could be taken on which stadium is the most convenient for supporters of the teams still involved. Making Arsenal and Chelsea travel to Azerbaijan was ludicrous. If they wanted a foreign flavour hold the game in Paris ffs

Goonerink

paris isn’t foreign to a lot of european football fans….namely the french.

you can’t tell me you’ve ever thought about going to baku other than the EL final. I for one didn’t even know it existed.
which is its point in hosting.

lessthanthesumoftheirparts
lessthanthesumoftheirparts

^spanner.
educate yourself

Goonerink

I’m sorry I don’t know the finer points of Armenian geography.
Shall I go look at every possible hosting stadium for next year in case there is a city that isn’t exactly major that I should know about in my small town on England…

lessthanthesumoftheirparts
lessthanthesumoftheirparts

Apologies, had one too many last night