German efficiency or British greediness?

Last Saturday, 1000 Borussia Dortmund fans walked out of Hamburg’s Imtech Arena after a mere 10 minutes of their team’s match against the home side, to protest against the ticket-price hike.

Their tickets costed €19 – slightly more than what you’d spend to secure yourself a seat to Hamburg’s 125th anniversary party next week, with miss van der Vaart as MC – which didn’t stop the disgruntled Dortmund fans from leaving the ground and proceed to listen to the game on portable devices that had been strategically placed outside the ground -German efficiency and all.

Yesterday, around 60,000 Londoners (as well as a hefty quota of tourists from the Middle and Far East as well as wealthy American businessmen) walked through the turnstiles at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. Such privilege costed them at least £62 (admittedly, the wealthy American businessmen might have sneaked in on a free, but you never know).

Arsenal-Chelsea was quickly billed as “the most expensive match ever in the Premier League” (a definition that has no doubt enraged the blue half of Manchester) and Arsenal fans have complained about the financial effort that is expected of them.

Arsenal responded to the criticisms by saying that their new ticketing system was not only endorsed after consultation with fans’ groups and trusts, but it will also lower the price of general admission tickets for less important big games which, according to the club, will be available for £35.

£35 for a ticket is hardly a bargain, but at least Arsenal did manage to keep tickets for their League Cup clash against Coventry on Wednesday at £10 and £20 for the upper tier, with kids charged £5.

Pupils were also allowed in the ground for as little as a fiver at the Etihad, where adults were charged £22.50, with tickets for 16 to 21-year-olds at £15.

No doubt due to the posh environment they find themselves immerse into on a daily basis, Chelsea charged £25 for their game against Wolves on Tuesday night, an absolute bargain compared to the cheapest tickets at Old Trafford, worth £30 (£28 for season ticket holders), with the most expensive seat worth an appalling £52, while kids were thrown at the deep end of the current economic climate as they were forced to ask their dads to fork out £12 (£10 for season ticket holders).

If you are still reading, I would like to take a moment to congratulate you for negotiating your way through that annoying sequence of numbers. It will make sense, believe me.

So, here we are back with the Dortmund fans who, two years ago, founded the “Kein Zwanni” ( which roughly translates into “No €20 games) movement  to protest against the ticket-price hikes by Bundesliga club.

Never ones to do thing by halves, Dortmund fans staged the first protest against local rivals Schalke as the Ruhr derby failed to sell out for the first time since people left the Oktoberfest Festival sober.

The movement was welcomed and endorsed by fans of other Bundesliga clubs who joined the protest and last week’s events were the last in an ever growing list of protests.

Before the game Kein Zwanni issued a statement said: “We call on all BVB supporters to join in our protest. An empty away standing area and many vacancies in the seats will not be overlooked by the media.

“Let’s increase the pressure on the people in charge together and lend weight to our claim for affordable tickets. We might ask a lot from you – but we hope you join in. United we are strong. Keep football a sport for all people.”

The Bundesliga has long been regarded as a benchmark in terms of ticket prices – Hamburg have some of the most expensive tickets in Germany, with the cheapest seat priced at €40 -  but supporters consider the price hikes a threat to younger fans or fans enjoying only a moderate income.

Or, in other words, they fear that the working class people for whom and by whom this game was invented, could be priced out of attending games. A feeling that the majority of us has experienced, either directly or indirectly.

What will it take for English clubs to act? At this rate, a season ticket for a medium-big Premier League club could be enough to afford a few return trips to Germany, including the match ticket.

Englishmen invading Germany to watch football, try and tell that to your granddad.

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