Monday, May 05, 2008

"Follow, follow, follow, why I'm NOT going to Moscow" - the first All Prawn Sandwich brigade final

Many of those United fans who were unlucky to miss out on the drama of the 1999 Champions League final in Barcelona will no doubt have vowed that they would not make the same mistake next time, and of course the moment has arrived, it's the Red Devils vs Chelski in Moscow. However, for many of those supporters the joy of reaching this final has been soured when it emerged that only those with really deep pockets will be actually being going to Moscow. The flight costs are prohibitively expensive, around £800 for a day trip - for the whole day out it will be over £1,000. In perspective that's more than the cost of a season ticket at Old Trafford.

Alternatively you could take the Deutsche Bahn train from London for £540, en route you will stop at Berlin and Warsaw before arriving in Moscow on May 20th - but there's nowhere to stay as all the hotels are either booked up or else way too expensive for the average fan. No such worries for UEFA's shiny-arse fat-cats, the city council pre-booked 10 hotels. Nice.

There’s no shortage of match tickets on Ebay though, but they will cost you a cool £2,000. (I don’t suppose that for once, the ticket touts will get stung?)

Leading up to the final there was a lot of speculation regarding the prospect of United meeting Liverpool, the fear was that there might be trouble ahead with rival fans clashing in Red Square and elsewhere, but in the light of the sky-high travel costs and lack of accommodation it seems those fears were unfounded.

Is it not somewhat ironic that the only good thing about two English clubs meeting in the Moscow final is that there's likely to be little no trouble? We cannot rule out the Russian trouble-makers lobbing in a few Molotov Cocktails, but that's not the point.

This match between United and Chelsea is the first All Prawn Sandwich Brigade final in the competition's history and for this reason alone, UEFA should hang their collective heads in shame, as many ordinary fans cannot afford to fund this trip. UEFA, will more than likely be privately thinking that they've pulled off something of a masterstroke in deciding on the final venue of Moscow.

English fans are of course well used to being ripped off by our own hapless FA, but UEFA have really screwed over supporters this time, the very fact that the fans needed a Visa just to gain access to Moscow should have precluded the Russian's as serious candidates. But, let's get make one thing clear here, the decision to award this final to Moscow has nothing to do the match-going fans and everything to do with money.

Reports claim that UEFA have realised that they are looking to the East to further expand because they have maximised their earning potential. So much for this tripe about the keeping the so called football family together – which is a common theme often spouted by UEFA and FIFA.

Furthermore, when Platini got the top job he was quick to publicly state that the fans are the lifeblood of the game when saying:"We know that fans are the only ones who show fidelity to a club or team basically from birth to death". So this is how the UEFA supremo rewards the loyal fans - by effectively pricing them of the Champions League final. Talk is cheap.

For the record, like many other fans, I wont be attending the final, instead I will make do with watching the match at home on TV. It's my wife's birthday too - another good reason no to go, but it didn't stop me in 1999 :0).

IF anyone fancies registering their disdain, UEFA is keen to hear from you. (Not)
supporters@uefa.ch

5 comments:

  1. Very good blog and excellent analysis that the awrding the most prodigeous of all club competitions to Moscow could have turned out to be a folly of outrageous proportions.

    Moscow and UEFA must have sighed with great relief when two teams with large international followings qualifed for the final otherwise the World would have wittnessed a game played in an empty souless bowl.

    Yes, of course, the awarding of the final has to be equitable and given to diverse places as long as the city concerned meets certain criteria. I'm certain that Moscow does this admairably, but surely, if if football fans from all over Europe envisaged problems should their team get there, UEFA and the Russian authorities should have given some guarantees before hand - but as you say, it's about the money now and nothing to do with real fans. Please read this Platini.

    As for next year, the final is going to be played in the Olympic Stadium, Rome for the umpteenth time. The Italian FA have been warned that if they don't solve their football hooligan problem, they will lose the right to host the final. We all know from past experiences that these are hollow words and there is as much chance as either of these happening as an all Scottish Champions League final next season.

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  2. "We know that fans are the only ones who show fidelity to a club or team basically from birth to death"

    Who does Platini think he is kidding?
    We've come to expect such claptrap from seasoned politicians, but Platini! Did they remove the soul of this former great player?

    The sad fact remains that whilst so much money is involved in the game,
    true fans such as ourselves will always come a distant second.

    Let's March On Moscow and demand to sleep on the floor of Platini's Presidential Suite after the game.

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  3. It's not the first time this has happened has it? Istanbul, Greece aren't exactly next door, are they?

    The problem really arises when two clubs from the same country face off each other in the final.

    Realistically how can we hold UEFA responsible for the flight tickets. Wouldn't Moscow raise a big hue and cry if this final were to be shifted to Wembley?

    Yes, Champions' League is expensive, but it is the final of Europe's showpiece tournament. Surely it has to be expensive?

    That said the concern, that regular season ticket holders will find the travel way too prohibitive, is valid. But to brand the rest as the prawn sandwich brigade is a little unfair. There will be rich reds who are passionate about their club. Being dismissive, stereotyping and generalizing any group of people based on some assumptions -- in this case, the fans' financial superiority -- is always going to make for a flawed argument.

    I understand where you are coming from as a, I presume, a season ticket holder. But to be honest, this article would have been complete if you'd suggested some alternative solutions to the problem.

    PS: I just read somewhere that the need for visas are going to be waived if one possesses a ticket.

    PPS: I will be more concerned about the local crowd that will surely be rooting for Roman's Chelski.

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  4. The alternative solution was contained in the article - they really shouldn't have been given the final. Nor should the Turks, given what has gone on over there when English teams have visited in the past.

    As I mentioned this is all about money (the push towards Eastern Europe (Istanbul and then Moscow)) it's about raising yet more money).

    Wembley was actually in the hat for the 2008 final - but due to it being a building site at the time of the decision it was ruled out.

    And just for you RR :0) I think that if this continues to be a recurring theme, UEFA will be forced into making changes to fall in line with reducing Football's carbon footprint.

    In the not too distant future I predict that the final venue will not be sorted out until the two teams are known - just like the FA-semis used to be - which proves that it is possible.

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  5. And finally...

    RR - If I came across as stereotyping our fans that wasn't the intention.

    Our fans come from every spectrum of life (having followed United since the 1970 I should know), but many supporters have been priced out of following United, that is a sad but true fact and in this instance. The situation in with this Moscow final sums up where football has been heading over the last few years, reference rising prices that many can no longer afford this trip.

    Those who are travelling to Moscow will need to have a lot of disposable income (to justify the cost).

    A Red accountant mate of mine said to me "who are all these people that can afford £1,000 on day out?". Quite. HE has three tickets for the final and he went to the semi in Barcelona - but if goes he will have to pay for his son to go too and he's saying that he cannot justify the cost - there will be others with families who cannot go. But his point asking who are these people who can afford to go is a valid one IMO.

    But we know what will happen in many cases, folk will resort to plastic - but that does not make it right.

    And here's another thing. Moscow should NEVER have been chosen because of the lack of accommodation alone. IF you were in Barcelona you know that there must have been thousands of ticketless Reds, but for the majority who had tickets there wasn't problem finding accommodation either in the city or further afield.

    Here's a true story ref barca 1999.
    In 1999, I took my son who was then 16 - I went over to Spain without a ticket, I gave him my £12 ticket. I got fixed up with a ticket over in Spain - which is an amazing story in itself....

    On our way into the ground, we bumped into a bloke and his 10 year old son who we had sat next to at Villa Park for the first FA semi with Arsenal - we had never met these people before, but it was good to meet up again ahead of what turned out to be such a joyous occasion. Like all Reds we will never forget that night and I've never seen the bloke since. But Imagine how lucky it was for us both to take our lads to a European final. Many fans will have been denied that opportunity this time around because of the UEFA's ill thought out decision to award that final to Moscow.

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