Manchester City fans may walk out in protest over Champions League ticket prices
Published 21/03/2016 | 19:21
Manchester City fans are considering walkout protests after criticising the club for crossing the line over ticket prices for the forthcoming Champions League quarter-final clash with Paris St Germain.
The club claim the £60 cost of top-priced tickets (the cheapest is £45) is a "fair reflection of the profile of the game".
However, supporters are angry at the large increase on prices from the previous round against Dynamo Kiev last week (£30-£40), and from the group stage matches against Juventus, Sevilla and Borussia Monchengladbach (£20-£40).
The 1894 Group claim the situation has so alienated fans that even if the club were to sign Lionel Messi, Neymar and Paul Pogba, many supporters would not attend if tickets were not priced realistically.
And they have now been asked to organise a walkout protest - a tactic which last month was hugely successful in forcing Liverpool's owners into a U-turn over new season ticket prices.
"We have had a huge amount of correspondence from City supporters who feel the pricing policy for the PSG game has gone over a line," said a statement.
"We have been asked to organise walkouts and to try and reverse the club's decisions on ticket prices.
"The club have not shown any consistency on pricing for this competition which has resulted in thousands of empty seats for games.
"The prices were too high for too long. Our view is that even if the club signed Messi, Pogba and Neymar but the prices were too high fans just would not go.
"The club didn't listen to this advice on prices and of course attendances in the Champions League slumped to the point where the club sent out thousands of free tickets - a buy one, get one free offer - for the CSKA Moscow home game in November 2014.
"Nothing devalued the competition more than giving away free tickets.
"It's likely that a lot of fans will wait and see what happens in the first leg (in Paris) before purchasing a ticket for the return - then there's a concern of higher prices in the event of us reaching a semi-final.
"We feel the club need to really listen to the fans now on ticket prices."
Prices for the PSG match align with those for the visit of Barcelona in last-16 a year ago and the club say levels are set according to various factors.
Fans do accept tickets will be more expensive as the competition progresses and higher-quality opposition visit the Etihad but think there should be more realistic expectations on what people are willing to pay.
With Premier League clubs recently agreeing to cap all away tickets at £30, and Liverpool's turnaround on their pricing plans, the mood domestically appears to be being more considerate of supporters but that has so far not applied to European tickets.
Kevin Parker, general secretary of the Manchester City Supporters Club, said: "You would expect this game to come with a premium but I think the premium they have added is just a jump too much.
"The mood of clubs has started to soften on ticket prices. With everything that has been happening, the levels the club have set them at for this game have come as a surprise.
"The club also have this very loyal fanbase that has followed them to all home and away games, including the Capital One Cup final.
"They don't seem to have added a reward factor into those ticket prices and reduced them."
City defended their pricing structure, insisting the calibre of opposition and the club's progress in the competition makes increases inevitable.
"Pricing for each match is reviewed on an individual basis, based on factors such as the opposition and stage of competition," said a statement.
"As this match is the quarter-final of Europe's biggest cup competition and the first time the club has progressed to this stage we believe the ticket prices are a fair reflection of the profile of the game."
Members of the 'Seasoncard' and 'Cityzens' schemes are entitled to a £5 discount, meaning that some juniors can purchase tickets for as little as £10. Regular prices for under-16s range from £15-30, with some seats £10-20 less than their equivalents for Barcelona last year.
Some adults will also pay no more, or up to £10 less, than for like-for-like tickets for the Barca games in 2014 and 2015.