Thursday, September 19, 2019

Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea fans demand changes to UEFA finals

SoccerNews in English Premier League 28 Aug 2019

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UEFA has received demands from Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal supporters calling for improvements to the fan experience at major European finals.

Difficulties faced by fans travelling to the Europa League final between Chelsea and Arsenal in May, which was held in Baku, Azerbaijan, caused controversy, while Liverpool and Tottenham supporters struggled to get tickets for the Champions League final in Madrid.

Gunners boss Unai Emery left Henrikh Mkhitaryan out of his squad for the Europa League final due to political tensions between Azerbaijan and the winger’s home nation of Armenia, with then Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny criticising UEFA’s decision to hold the final in Baku.

A joint statement by the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, the Spirit of Shankly Liverpool supporters’ group and the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust outlined changes fans want to see in the how UEFA organises major finals.

The statement read: “Reaching a UEFA Champions League or Europa League final should be a wonderful experience for a club’s supporters. Instead, they can face a struggle just to attend the match.

“Problems range from inadequate numbers of tickets being awarded to the finalists, through to all-but-impossible travel arrangements.

“Too often fans who had supported their clubs in every round up to the final were left out of pocket or not able to attend the final at all.”

With the draws for this season’s Champions League and Europa League groups set to take place on Thursday and Friday, respectively, in Monaco, the statement called for 80 per cent of match tickets to be available to fans of competing finalists, and for stadiums with large capacities to be chosen for finals.

Along with a fair and affordable ticket pricing policy, the statement called for improved accessibility to stadiums, host cities with high standards of infrastructure, and a human rights and equality policy applicable to host nations.

“[Thursday’s] much-hyped draw will involve everybody from the football family except the very people without whom there would be no European Football – its supporters,” the statement continued.

“We call upon UEFA to strengthen its dialogue with fans and request that they start by engaging with groups like ourselves to discuss the proposals we have put forward to improve arrangements for fans at the final stage of the Champions and Europa Leagues.”

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