So, with the semi-final over, thousands of supporters begin thinking about the long journey to one of Europe’s most dangerous cities, putting out of their minds worries about gangs, murderers, prostitutes and thieves. But enough about Liverpool, we’re on our way to Moscow!Or are we? Because, jokes aside, many season ticket holders I know aren’t going. What? NOT GOING? Yes, you heard right, many season ticket holders I know aren’t going. The reason is quite simple: money. You see Chelsea is unique in that season ticket holders have to renew their tickets and pay for next season before the current one has finished!
What this means is that 27,000 season ticket holders, the Chelsea hardcore, have to find an average of £775 per person by 5pm, May 15th. That’s approximately £21 million. Add to this an average cost of a trip to Moscow of £1,000 plus £140 per ticket and £250 expenses and you have a total of approx £1,400 per person. 21,000 multiplied by £1,400 equals £29 million. Chelsea hardcore, the ones who actually attend all the games, are therefore being stiffed for £50 million this month alone if they want to renew their season tickets AND go to Moscow.
Because of this ‘Chelsea credit crunch’, many season ticket holders aren’t going. They can’t afford it. By contrast, quite a number of Chelsea members are planning to go. Why? They have no financial pressure to renew season tickets and have more spare cash to throw around. Of course, that’s a generalisation but there is a grain of truth in this.
The policy of renewing season tickets in May is a throwback to the Bates era when financial pressures meant that the Club wanted to bank next season’s money as soon as possible and earn interest from it. This policy needs to change and fall in line with other Clubs. Liverpool, for example, demand season ticket monies in July.
However, most of the blame must fall on UEFA. As Martin Samuel pointed out in the Times on April 28th, ‘final locations are picked with no thought for the ordinary supporter’ and that ‘by sending the Final to Moscow, UEFA knew that it would be constructing the away day from hell’.
Quite. Despite visa regulations being relaxed, the potential for travel chaos is huge. Anyone who went to Stockholm for the European Cup Winners Cup Final in 1998 will remember the return journey when a mad panic at the airport saw fans literally running across the tarmac and piling into planes with not a passport or ticket request in sight. Many fans subsequently missed their planes and had an additional 12 to 24 hour wait at the airport.
CFCnet has already been warned by Liverpool fans that Champions League Final day trips are asking for trouble. A dodgy wing flap can ground even the most modern Boeing and leave 300 fans high and dry. Factor in Terminal 5; Moscow being the Planet’s second most expensive city and ‘the rip-off capital of the world’ (© The Times); only 35,000 hotel rooms; The Russian Authorities segregating the fans and ‘shepherding them around Moscow’ (© BBC World Service); a 10.45 pm kick-off meaning a 2 a.m. exit if the match goes to penalties; a robust policing arrangement (read tear gas, batons and riot shields); ticket forgeries galore; fan zones with no alcoholic beverages and one hot dog stand; pickpockets and muggers…
UEFA’s mission statement says “In all that we do we care about football”.
As Patrick Barclay said in the latest Sunday Telegraph, “whoever chose Moscow for the Final deserves to choke on his caviar.”