With demand persuading Manchester City to expand the capacity of its stadium to 55,000, you wouldn’t think the club third in the Premier League would have trouble shifting tickets for Wednesday night’s vital Champions League game. Yet they’re offering a two-for-one deal on seats for the match against CSKA Moscow, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Getting out of the Champions League group stage is a top priority for the club this year, but not for the fans, it seems. Only 37,509 saw the 1-1 draw with Roma in September – about 10,000 below capacity. That was just 5,000 more supporters than the number who watched City beat Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup a week earlier.
Nor are the seats expensive by British soccer standards – they can be had for about $40-$50.
Bearing in mind the rumbles that surface every so often about Europe’s top clubs going their own way and forming a pan-continental league, the message from England seems to be that fans would rather watch run-of-the-mill domestic teams than the group stages of the Champions League. And that with prices already high, perhaps some season-ticket holders are balking at shelling out even more money for European games that they can (sometimes) watch on free-to-air television. The frequent sell-outs in EPL stadia disguise the fact that clubs are often having to work hard to sell tickets, and often offer incentivized pricing.
Arsenal’s home game against Anderlecht on Tuesday is sold out – but it’s a “category B” match, meaning tickets are roughly half-price compared with games against more glamorous opposition (but at the Emirates, we’re still talking $60-$100 for average seats). So is Arsenal’s fixture later this month with Borussia Dortmund (perhaps there aren’t as many hipsters in London as you might expect).
Chelsea is selling group stage Champions League tickets for $56 – cheaper than it would cost to see Jose Mourinho’s team face the likes of Burnley and Leicester City and half what you’d expect to pay to watch Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
Still, City’s European crowds are a lot better than CSKA Moscow’s …