Uefa has been accused of "disgraceful exploitation" of supporters after announcing that tickets for the Champions League final at Wembley will be the most expensive in the competition’s history.
Uefa makes much of its efforts to ensure the final chimes with the culture of its host country, and appears to have latched on to Britain’s soaring inflation figure when setting prices for the final.
About 11,000 tickets set aside for neutral supporters will cost £150 (€179), £225 (€268) and £300 (€358), with each pair of tickets subject to an administration fee of £26 (€31). This will take the cost of four tickets in the cheapest category (C) to £652 (€779).
The cheapest tickets for supporters of the two clubs contesting the final will be £80 (€95) but Uefa did not specify how many of the 50,000 seats they will share will be in that price bracket.
The prices represent an increase of about 15pc in each category on those for last year’s Champions League final in Madrid and mean that the cost of attending Europe’s showpiece club fixture has almost doubled since 2009.
The Football Supporters Federation condemned the prices and the hefty administration fee, saying Uefa “should be ashamed of itself” for setting prices so high.
“These prices are absolutely outrageous and take ticket pricing to an absurdly stratospheric new level,” said Malcolm Clarke, the FSF chairman.
“In a difficult economic climate, not only in this country but across Europe, where supporters may be coming from, this represents disgraceful exploitation of fans.
“The £26 (€31) administration fee represents the cherry on a particularly disgusting cake. There is absolutely no way of justifying such a high fee and Uefa should be ashamed of themselves.
“It is totally unacceptable whatever country the supporters are from. It will be particularly harsh on fans coming from abroad who have to add travel costs.”
The price rises come despite Uefa president Michel Paltini justifying the final being moved to Saturday to allow more children to attend the game with their parents.
Children’s tickets are available only in the £225 (€268) category two, meaning an adult-and-child package will cost £338 (€403). Uefa claimed this included a 50pc reduction for the child.
Uefa’s director of competitions, Giorgio Marchetti, defended the prices, claiming they were in line with comparable events such as the World Cup final or European Championship final. He denied that prices had been hiked to exploit the London market with its large corporate presence.
Speaking at the ticket launch at London’s City Hall: “The prices are based on the type of event and when you compare it to other events we don’t think that the Champions League final is overpriced.
“We do not want to squeeze every single penny out of the market. We have to benchmark this event against other comparable events like, for example, the final of the Euros and the World Cup.
“Last year there was already a significant increase compared to the previous editions but it’s nothing to do with being in London and it still priced below comparable events.”
The cost of Champions League final tickets has increased hugely since Rome 2009 – the cheapest category C tickets have almost doubled since then, when they cost £69 (€82).
A category B ticket in 2009 cost £120 (€143) and a category A ticket £171 (€204).
Marchetti said the £26 (€31) administration fee per two-ticket booking – or £36 (€43) outside of Europe – was justified because there were “costs involved”, but did not explain why it was up to 10 times higher than the average ticket administration fee charged by agents in the UK.
“This is the market price. Do you think we would have trouble filling Wembley if the prices were higher? You think it would be different? We try to strike a balance between the interest of the supporters and the interest of the event. Why should we price the tickets lower than what we think is a fair level?”
Asked about the administration fee for the women’s Champions League final, at Fulham’s Craven Cottage on May 26 – where tickets cost just £5 (€6) – Marchetti replied: “That is a nasty question. I hope you don’t think the men’s final and women’s final have the same target of people.
“We are not making a profit, we have different targets and objectives for the women’s final.”
Uefa expects income from the Champions League final to top £14m, £3m more than last year’s final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich in Madrid.
HOW TO GET A TICKET
Total number of tickets: 86,000
Tickets distributed to two finalists: 25,000 each (to be handled and sold by the individual clubs)
Tickets on general sale: 11,000
Tickets for corporate sale and for the ‘Uefa family’: 25,000
How to buy a ticket now
Log onto uefa.com between 11am on Thursday February 24 and 5pm on Friday March 18 and apply to enter the ballot. Allocations will be decided by lottery, not on first-come first-served basis. The draw is made on April 2 and winners will be notified by email. Maximum two tickets per person. Ticket prices: £150 (€179), £225 (€268) and £300 (€358)– plus a £26 (€31) administration fee £36 (€43) if you live outside of Europe).
How to buy a ticket if your team reaches the final
The two finalists will be allocated 25,000 tickets each, to be distributed by the clubs as they wish. Suffice to say if you are not a season ticket holder it will be extremely difficult to buy one. Prices range from £80 up to £300.
Any other way in?
Around 3,000 corporate packages will be available, prices yet to be announced. Wembley Box Holders can guarantee themselves a place including hospitality at a price of almost £4,000 (€4781) per person.