From waiting for the full time whistle to go in the West Bromwich Albion and Spurs match to the agonised last ten minutes in the Chelsea – Huddersfield match on Wednesday night, it has been a bit of wringer for us Reds this week as our season comes to a needlessly dramatic end. Liverpool to win from behind against Brighton is currently 9/1 with RedsBet.
But none of this pales to the agony or ecstasy that is going to head the way of many of us this Friday as the knife edge ballot for Kiev tickets takes place. The maths has been done and there is supposedly a 1 in 3.7 chance of those of us in this rat race to emerge with a ticket.
The club has got this painful procedure badly, badly wrong in the past. Apart from being privvy to selling “the family silver” to the biggest pair of cowboys that the club could be possibly sold to, Rick Parry will always be associated with the 2007 Athens fiasco. He refused to “play the numbers game” and give a breakdown of the ticket allocation. It stoked tempers that went all the way to the turnstiles in Athens.
I was lucky in 2007 and I won out in the ballot. I witnessed the incompetence of the Greek stadium staff and police with my own two eyes as people bunked into the ground using forgeries, cigarette packets and outright bribes. It was a very unpleasant situation and whilst I’m not blaming Parry for people turning up thinking they’ve a god given right to entry, the lack of information contributed to anger.
Whilst I’m not a massive fan of our current American owners, they have handled the 2018 ballot a lot better. It’s not perfect by any means but at least there’s transparency. Per the website the tickets have been allocated to us as follows:
General supporter allocation – 63 per cent;
Contractual supporter allocation; to include seasonal hospitality members and priority rights holders – 25 per cent;
Match day officials/first team players/former players/media – 11 per cent;
Commercial partners – contractual obligations – 1 per cent.
This is where we have to consider the absolutely pitiful allocation. 16,626 tickets is far, far short of what we need and what Real Madrid need. It is simply risible to expect that number of tickets to go around the fans of two of the most well supported clubs in Europe. Like they were to blame for a ticket shortage (and the exorbitant black market it creates) in 2007, UEFA are holding fans to ransom.
The unfortunate mechanics of the fact is that we have to dance to their tune. Their tune is as much money as they can possibly make. You need only look at the ticket prices for that fact:
£315 (Restricted View)
£223 (Restricted View)
£109 (Restricted View)
£48 (Restricted View).
£394 for a ticket is simply disgusting. That price is roughly the equivalent of 50% of a Kop season ticket. For one match. For the best part of £400 I would want to be the one handing the trophy out! And the unfortunate mechanics of the fact are that for us balloteers, there are going to be more category 1, 2 and 3 tickets left than anything else if and when we get our bite at the cherry. Liverpool to win the Champions League is currently at 6/5 with RedsBet.
For those of you not familiar with how the tickets have worked, the fans who have made all six home games (the Hoffenheim qualifier has been discounted) plus one away game have a guaranteed ticket. I have zero issues with that – a European away is a big commitment. Those people have probably already bought their ticket and frankly why pay an inflated fee for a ticket when you’re already paying an inflated fee for a flight? If I was in that boat (or car, coach, plane or bicycle) I would be buying a £61 ticket. From pictures I have seen of the restricted views, I wouldn’t be wasting my time with them. They are the very definition of restricted! By the time the ballot comes around, we’re all going to be brawling over £250 plus tickets.
The club are not at fault but not completely blameless. As far as I’m concerned the ballot doesn’t need a week of preparation. I understand there are procedures that need to be put in place but are the people in the ballot not in need of a speedier resolution? Those who have tickets can already make their plans for flights. I am not looking to go to Kiev if I can’t get a ticket so I need to wait until the ballot before deciding whether or not I can make any kind of plans. And even then I am confronted with blatant profiteering. Thomas Cook charging £850 for day return flights is a modern day scandal. But nothing will be done about it because they are the club’s official travel partner. It stinks quite frankly – but Thomas Cook set the prices, not Liverpool.
This might come across as a bitter rant but it isn’t. I am at peace with the fact I won’t make Kiev. If I am lucky enough to win a ticket in the ballot, I might be able to just about afford a ticket but I won’t be able to afford a flight. I have been fortunate enough to get to a Champions League final before and that was through the luck of the ballot.
The club have done the best they can with the outrageous allocation given to us. We have to be second best to the “UEFA Family” after all. By which I mean the faceless corporate entities who couldn’t find their way to Anfield or the Bernabau with a SatNav. I don’t know about Real’s selling arrangements but they are in the same situation as us. Like in 2007, the whole thing stinks to high heaven.
It is typical of Liverpool doing things the hard way – Kiev is not an easy city to get to and in this situation, we’re all held to the prices that the charter flights set which are frankly tantamount to extortion. Our last three finals have been in Istanbul, Athens and Kiev respectively. Cardiff in 2017, Madrid in 2019. Let’s try and get to one on our own doorstep, Reds!
If you’re in the ballot on Friday, the very best of luck to you. We’re all going to need it! Here’s to hoping we’re not restricted to compelling “restricted” views of a wall!