Fan group urges UEFA to curb Champions League ticket hikes

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              Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during the Champions League round of 16, 2nd leg, soccer match between FC Barcelona and Olympique Lyon at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
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GENEVA (AP) — After Barcelona and Manchester United raised prices for their Champions League quarterfinal matches, UEFA was urged on Thursday to enforce stricter ticketing rules by the group it consults to represent European soccer fans.

Football Supporters Europe criticized “exorbitant pricing” in hikes imposed on visiting fans by two of the world’s wealthiest clubs for their games on April 10 and 16.

After Barcelona set prices at 118 euros ($134) for visiting Man United fans, the English club retaliated with an equivalent 102 pound price for away fans at Old Trafford. That is almost 70 percent more than the base ticket price of 70 euros ($79.60) for the Champions League final in Madrid.

Man United said 27 pounds ($35) from each ticket sold to Barcelona fans will subsidize tickets at Camp Nou for its own fans “again being subjected to increased/excessive prices.”

“Yet again, this is proof that the current regulations for UEFA competitions are not sufficient,” the fan group, described by UEFA as a key stakeholder , said in a statement.

English clubs have long complained to UEFA about opposing clubs, typically in Spain, raising prices for their traveling fans.

UEFA’s current rules prohibit two-tier pricing, and have been used to force Anderlecht and AEK Athens to compensate Bayern Munich fans in the past two seasons. Bayern fans attending the away games were due to get 30 euros ($34) from Anderlecht and 10 euros ($11.30) from AEK.

However, most Barcelona fans avoid paying the full price charged to visitors. The club discounts prices for season ticket-holders and members.

“We expect UEFA to change the regulations to state that ticket prices for away fans should be the same as the cheapest tickets available for home fans,” Football Supporters Europe said.

The Germany-based group also said Man United responding with “reciprocal pricing is part of the problem.”

“Barcelona fans should not be forced to pay for the sins of their club,” the FSE said. “Indeed, just because elite level football is awash with money does not mean that fans are — quite the opposite. It is incumbent upon clubs to recognize this fact and act accordingly.”

Champions League safety rules currently say away fan tickets “must not exceed the price paid for tickets of a comparable category” for home fans.

A strict interpretation of UEFA rules could see Man United more likely to face a disciplinary case, despite seeking to help its own fans financially by raising prices for Barcelona’s visit on April 10.

UEFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amid one dispute between two storied clubs, two more former European champions made a fan-friendly deal for their quarterfinals matches.

Liverpool said Thursday it had “extensive discussions” with UEFA and Porto before agreeing its fans will be charged 60 euros ($68) to see the second leg in Portugal on April 17. That is 15 euros ($17) less than Liverpool fans paid last season for a round-of-16 game at Porto.

“(Liverpool) would like to thank Porto for working with the club on a pricing structure,” the English club said , noting other Champions League clubs are working with UEFA “to negotiate the fairest ticket prices for their fans.”